MANILA, Philippines—An alliance of fisherfolk has accused the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) of “orchestrating the spread of knife fish” in the 90,000-hectare lake to kill the livelihood of small fishermen and fishpen operators, a claim which the authority called baseless and unfounded.
The group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)claimed the government was benefiting from the invasion of the killer fish because it wanted to turn the lake into a commercial and industrial economic hub under a public-private partnership agreement.
“The knife fish spread like amoeba in the Laguna Lake…the LLDA and the Office of the President wanted to clear the lake of fishing and fish-culturing activities before they offer the lake to businesses,” Fernando Hicap, chair of Palamakaya said in an e-mailed statement.
Hicap said the knife-fish invasion of Laguna Lake reduced production by 70 to 90 percent.
The Pamalakaya official said the LLDA and other concerned government agencies are working on a master plan known as the Laguna Lake Master Development Project that will involve 54 major projects amounting to P400 billion in total investments.
According to Hicap, the projects include the dredging of Laguna Lake, the construction of 100-kilometer road and dike from Taytay, Rizal, to Sta. Cruz, Laguna, and a plan by two water concessionaires—Maynilad and Manila Water—to source potable water from the lake. Hicap said the government is apparently ready to guarantee them a daily extraction of 300 million cubic meters and 100 million cubic meters of fresh water from the lake.
LLDA general manager Neric Acosta dismissed Hicap’s claims as “unfounded” and “not valid.”
“This problem (the knife-fish invasion) affects not just the small fishermen but even the big fish-pen operators,” noted Acosta. “The knife fish goes into pens big or small. How could it be possible that someone would want it to happen when every (stakeholder) in the lake is affected ” he added.
Acosta also stressed that the cause of the knife fish in the lake was accidental and triggered by the “Ondoy” flooding in 2009.
The fisher group has also urged the LLDA to open the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NHCS) to allow salt water from Manila Bay during high tide to enter the lake and cleanse it of the various toxic and alien species.