Militants oppose lake flood control project

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MANILA, Philippines—Militant groups on Friday raised fears that a P780-million flood control project around Laguna de Bay would displace some 400,000 people in four towns of Laguna province.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Save Laguna Lake Movement, and Anakpawis party-list said the construction of river control structures would require the massive demolition of communities living around the lake.

The groups said 400,000 people from the towns of Sta. Cruz, Sta. Maria, Mabitac and San Pedro could lose their homes.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chair Salvador France and Anakpawis party-list vice chair Fernando Hicap said President Aquino had given the go-signal to carry out the “lake-wide demolition to pave way for the construction of river control structures along the four towns.”

They said they got the information from “reliable sources.”

“According to our reliable sources, the demolition of lake families will start right after the May 13, elections,” the groups said, adding that it was the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) that set the timetable for the completion of the flood control structures.

The groups warned of “an across-the-Laguna Lake revolt” if they pushed the “wrecking project in Laguna de Bay.”

“They better think over a million times before they proceed with this public-private partnership inspired project in the lake,” Hicap and France said.

The groups are questioning the propriety of the P780-million project granted by the Department of Public Works and Highways to LLDA, saying it is not a job of the lake agency.

“The LLDA is mandated by law to protect and preserve the 90,000 hectare lake for the benefit of fishing and farming families around the lake. It is not obliged to undertake public works,” the groups said.

LLDA general manager Neric Acosta earlier said the fund would be used to solve the perennial problem of flooding around the lake due to natural disasters exacerbated by uncontrolled logging and improper garbage disposal.

Under Republic Act No. 4850, the LLDA is tasked to plan, program, finance, or undertake infrastructure projects such as river, flood and tidal control works, among others.

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