‘Gains for whole PH’: Solon says rehabbing Laguna Lake good for tourism
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has asked national government agencies and local stakeholders for help in rehabilitating Laguna Lake, as it would benefit the entire country due to potential revenues from tourism.
During the House of Representatives committee on ecology hearing on Thursday, Santa Rosa City Rep. Dan Fernandez said that he is proposing the relaunch of the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project not because he hails from the province; the benefits once the lake is restored would be felt nationwide, he noted.
Laguna Lake, the country’s largest inland body of water, currently suffers from siltation which has significantly decreased its carrying capacity.
“I think it’s incumbent upon all of us (to rehabilitate) you know the biggest lake in the country and second in Southeast Asia, and the source of potable water of Metro Manila and the whole Laguna, Rizal, and the whole region. Ang laking bagay nito sa atin eh, itong Laguna Lake eh, imagine kung mabuhay natin ‘yong (Laguna Lake is important; imagine if we revived) Laguna Lake 20 or 30 or 50 years ago?” Fernandez said.
“Please help us, kasi we cannot do this on our own. Remember, hindi porque’t ako’y tiga (It’s not just because I’m from) Laguna that I wanted it to be done, because ‘yung economic gains would not only be for our region but for the whole of the Philippines,” he said.
According to Fernandez, who is vice chair of the said House panel, the original Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project crafted by Belgian Company Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC) had specified reclamation using the material that would be recovered from the dredging operations.
Had the plan continued, the lawmaker said it would have been turned into a profitable site for the tourism industry.
“Isipin niyo na pupwede na tayong pumunta do’n, doon na tayo maliligo imbes na pumunta tayo sa Boracay, mapaganda natin, ‘yong reclamation maayos natin,” Fernandez said.
(Just think of it, we could go to that area, we could swim there instead of going to Boracay if we can improve it and if we can have proper reclamations.)
“So, 105 hectares sa San Pedro, I think 56 hectares doon sa Taytay, tapos sa Lupang Arenda meron din siya, limang area ‘yon. And that places magiging place of tourism eh, kasi we can design areas of land na magiging profitable. Siguro ‘yong 100 hectares parang Boracay-style na ‘to, meron na tayong mga different amenities doon that will be conducive sa local tourists and international tourists to go,” he added.
(So, there are 105 hectares in San Pedro, and I think 56 hectares in Taytay, Rizal; as well as in Lupang Arenda, some areas would also be reclaimed. And these places would be for tourism because we can design areas to be profitable. Maybe the 100 hectares can be turned into a Boracay-style resort with different amenities that will be conducive for local and international tourists.)
During the hearing, renowned architect Felino Palafox explained that the problem with Laguna Lake is that the Manggahan Floodway — an artificial waterway that diverts waters from Marikina River instead of going to Pasig River during the rainy season — was constructed without a spillway.
Palafox said that a spillway or a dredging system should be in place to divert flood waters that are directed to Laguna Lake.
“What happened was that the Manggahan Floodway was built to divert the flood waters from the mountains to the Laguna Lake, hindi ginawang spillway. Kaya I was quoted ‘Laguna Lake is like a toilet without a flush’,” Palafox said.
As of now, Fernandez relayed that four million metric tons of sediments are going into Laguna Lake, decreasing its capacity by 0.50 centimeters. This has prompted the lawmaker to doubt assertions that the depth of Laguna Lake is still at 2.5 meters.
Among the agencies present at the hearing were the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Laguna Lake Development Authority, and water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
The hearing earlier was for the technical working group assigned to review proposals to revive the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project. Last March 16, Fernandez said that dredging the Laguna Lake floor would help flood control programs.
The P18 billion project, initiated under the term of former president and now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was shelved during the term of her successor, late former president Benigno Aquino III. The cancellation of the project led to lawsuits from BDC as it was believed to be a breach of contract.