P200B for dike for Laguna de Bay

THE Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is drafting a master plan for the construction of a P200-billion 100-kilometer rink dike that will take years and years to finish.

The P200-billion proposed project does not include the master plan itself which may cost a hundred million of pesos or more.

According to LLDA general manager Rodrigo Cabrera, the ring dike would fence the circumference to prevent flooding and pollution around the lake and to stop illegal settlers in the area.

Well and good, but the priority of the government should not be the construction of such a mega dike but to give back Laguna de Bay to the people who have been deprived of livelihood because of the fences that ring the lake, legal or illegal.

These fences or fishponds that are scattered all over Laguna de Bay are owned by powerful people, many of them in government. They are so powerful that they can ring the lake with armed bodyguards and order the death of any trespassers.

To my mind, the ring dike will only perpetuate the proliferation of fish ponds operated by the powerful and the influential and further deprive the people in the community of access to their main source of livelihood.

Laguna de Bay is dying because the fishes could not breathe and could not move around the water because of the suffocation brought about by the cages that serve as prison cells for them.

It will not cost the government P200 billion to enforce the laws and amend some of them to make the lake liveable.

In the past, there had been efforts, futile though, to dismantle these fences but because the lawmakers and the enforcers appear to be beholden to the people who benefit from the fish cages, nothing is being done to correct the situation.

The LLDA said the construction of a dike could be carried out side by side with the relocation of at least 300,000 families who have been living along the lake shores and the river banks of its tributaries.

“This will be built like a mega-dike with a height of four meters to increase the holding capacity of the lake. We are sure this will have a major impact in the region,” Cabrera said.

Apparently, the LLDA chief knows the problem but chooses to go for a solution that will cost the government more than P200 billion, granting that no one else will earn from the kickbacks and the tongpats..

Cabrera said that instead of assigning a contractor to do the work, the government would place the dike project under the public and private partnership program, which would require projects to undergo a public bidding.

A transparent bidding process would remove worries of overpricing and corruption, he added. Oh, yeah?

Cabrera said the government would form a committee composed of officials from LLDA, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and the National Housing Authority to study and execute the plan.

With too many cooks, you will sense some crooks already smelling something fishy.

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