Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate agriculture and food committee, urged the public to protect Laguna de Bay, which she considers “a throbbing lifeline of our country,” and to ensure its ecological integrity for the environment and agriculture.
“I hope the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) will continue to protect the rights and welfare of small fisherfolks whose lives are dependent on the lake,” said Villar.
While Laguna de Bay’s dominant use is fisheries, Villar noted that it has various roles like flood water reservoir, waste water sink, and source of water supply.
“So it is crucial for us to employ a balancing act in order to protect the lake amidst those activities,” said the veteran legislator.
The seasoned lawmaker said the government has all the policies and plans needed to realize short and long-term vision for Laguna De Bay.
This includes the “Laguna de Bay Basin Master Plan: 2016 and Beyond,” Laguna de Bay 2020, and the Laguna de Bay Zoning and Management Plan for Fisheries or ZOMAP, which is being revised. ZOMAP is benefiting the disadvantaged small fisherfolks. She said all government agencies involved in the development of Laguna de Bay should have an overview of plans to better assess all efforts and actions. She said this will also provide us with a better appreciation on what we have accomplished and what else needs to be done.
“So it is important that we know what everyone is up to or doing, as I cited earlier for better appreciation,” said the lady senator.
Villar, also chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, noted that because the country is in the midst of massive urbanization and industrialization, “various activities from household, agriculture and industrial sectors have its toll on the lake over the decades within the form of pollution and other environmental degradation.”
“Everyone knows that it is very important to guarantee the cleanliness of freshwater sources like Laguna Lake. And as in any important projects or endeavours, it is a job for everyone. The government alone or the private sector alone cannot do the job,” she said.
Villar related that when she launched the Las Piñas River Rehabilitation Program, residents were uncooperative so she made them stakeholders in the undertaking.
“So I strongly believe that community involvement is very crucial in the success of any project. I am sure you will all agree with me on that. So I urge the government agencies and private groups to involve the communities. And I also urged residents of communities surrounding the Laguna de Bay to cooperate and get actively involved,” she added.