Groups to Laguna LGUs: Careful on spillway project

LAKE based groups on Saturday advised local government officials surrounding the 90,000-hectare lake to be extra-careful in endorsing the underground spillway project which the government will construct and finish in two years.

Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap cautioned Rizal Gov. Jun Ynares, Laguna Gov. Jorge “ER” Ejercito and other local government officials from sealing their approval on the P 5 billion underground spillway project that will span 7.2 kilometer which will pump out excess water from the heavily silted lake.

“We suggest an in-depth study on this proposal if such flood prevention project is really feasible, accurate and in accordance with the collective interest of the Filipino public or merely a dime-a-dozen infrastructure escapade that traditionally breeds destruction and corruption. The LGUs of Laguna Lake should be extra prudent in dealing with this kind of project,” Hicap, also the vice chairperson of Anakpawis party list suggest.

The Pamalakaya official suggested a multisectoral summit should be held to determine the impacts of the spillway project. Hicap said aside from LGUs surrounding the lake, the summit should include experts from the academe, fisheries and flood control sectors, people’s representatives from fisherfolk, farmers and urban poor associations, asserting that the views, rights and welfare of  affected sectors should be primarily considered in approving or rejecting the 7.2 kilometer spillway plan in Laguna Lake.

Pamalakaya, SLLM and Anakpawis party list said the construction of underground spillway should not cause major displacement of small fisherfolk, small farmers and urban poor along the 7.2 kilometer spill way from Laguna Lake to Manila Bay via Muntinlupa. “The lakefolks of Laguna Lake should be assured first that they will not be evicted from their main source of livelihood and villages and that the government will pursue improvement of their current condition,” the groups said.

Earlier, Gov. Ejercito welcomed the planned construction of a 7.2-kilometer underground spillway to pump out excess water from the heavily silted lake. The Laguna governor said even if the underground project is not part of the P 352-billion flood control master plan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the spillway should also be considered priority project.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya, SLLM and Anakpawis party list-Laguna Lake chapter urged Laguna Lake elected officials to reject the 100-kilometer road dike the government will construct from Taytay City in Rizal to Sta.Cruz town in Laguna, adding that it will fuel frequent flooding rather than solve the perennial flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon region, Metro Manila and Laguna, Rizal and Cavite in Southern Tagalog region because the road dike intends to hold and not to release excess waters from Laguna Lake during typhoon and monsoon rain season.

“The purpose of the dike is to hold more waters instead of pumping out excess waters. This road dike is not a feasible idea for flood solving problem,” the groups said.

Pamalakay noted that around 82,040 fisherfolk and urban poor households living along the shore land of Laguna de Bay will lose their homes owing to the construction of the 100-kilometer ring road dike project in Laguna Lake.

Hicap maintained said that if the P23-billion road dike project under 2020 Laguna Lake Master Plan pushes through, it will cause the biggest demolition of all time since the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice chairperson, said the project of the Laguna Lake DevelopmentAuthority will displace 500,000 people.

“According to Office of the President and the LLDA, the road dike project which will cost the Filipinopeople a whopping P 23.58 billion in taxpayers’ money will give investors 17.6 percent for their investments at the expense of the taxpaying public and lakeshore people,” France said.

Citing LLDA’s own document on Laguna de Bay Basin Project 2020, the group said the Aquino administration and the LLDA are planning the eviction of 6,800 households in Barangay. Malaban in Binan, Laguna; 4,800 families in Barangay Sinalhan in Sta.Rosa, Laguna; 60,000 households in Barangay San Juan also known as Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal; and 10,440 other families composed of informal settlers along shoreline of Laguna Lake.

The LLDA said the Aquino administration will shell out P200,000 per household or roughly P6.5 billion for 80,000 households who will be displaced and sent to government relocation sites.

Pamalakaya, however, said that besides the road dike, the Aquino government will allow construction of high-rise condominium building, big budget housing units, world class hotels and eco-tourism centers in areas which will be vacated by lake shore families.

The group said the ring dike project will also have 11 pumping stations, four lanes and 11 bridges.

The group said the government will only offer water lily livelihood projects to displaced fishermen and urban poor worth P5 million.

“Imagine half-a-million people will have to rely their livelihood on P5 million water lily projects in Laguna Lake and Malacanang describes this as development and progress,” said Pamalakaya.

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