Lakeshore groups pressed dismantling of Napindan
By Mama Mila Liguasan in Antipolo City, Rizal
and Bb. Joyce Cabral in Calamba City, Laguna
LAKESHORE groups in Rizal and Laguna provinces identified with the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the multi-sectoral environmental group Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) on Friday pressed Malacanang and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to immediately dismantle the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), asserting the Laguna Lake and its people will always be in flood and in constant danger, unless, the national government lead the slaying of this super monster structure.
Aside from dismantling of NCHS, Pamalakaya and SLLM are also calling for an independent national inquiry that will investigate and will look into the current state of Laguna Lake. The groups suggested that the independent probe body shall be composed of representatives from the Philippine Senate, the House of Representatives, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the other church organizations, environmental groups and experts, representatives from people’s organizations.
Leaders of Pamalakaya and SLLM eye Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno to head the national inquiry body. However, they said, request for SC Chief Justice Puno, has yet to be formalized.
“If the government wants to resolve the catastrophe in Laguna Lake, it should do it now. It should do it good, it should not pander, it should not pussyfoot and it should stop telling lies and tall tales to the media and the public,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.
Hicap, also convenor of Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) said the dismantling of NCHS will only take 24 hours of hard work and determination, so it will not take long. “The destruction of this anti-people superstructure is a social and historical necessity in order to address this across-the-lake catastrophe,” he said.
Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns surrounding Laguna Lake were already submerged in waters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Ondoy.
Reports from field coordinators of Pamalakaya and SLMM in Rizal and Laguna provinces said fisherfolk and lakeshore residents had already noticed the rising water level in Laguna Lake and excess waters had spilled along in 30 towns in Rizal and Laguna provinces, and in the National Capital Region before Ondoy pounded heavy rains on September 26.
“The disaster is bound to happen. It is a perfect storm in the making because the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) refuses to open the NCHS that will dispose excess waters in the lake. Tropical storm Ondoy only fast tracked the commencement of the super calamity,” they said.
Hicap lamented: “We have been sending hundreds of notices to LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda that the lake authority should open NCHS to prevent the happening of a Great Flood all over the lake and in Metro Manila, but Mr. Manda is either not listening to this fearless forecast, or he is not doing his assignment or he is ignorant of the issue and its consequences to more than 6 million lakeshore people.”
“Where will Mrs. Arroyo and Mr. Manda relocate the people of Laguna Lake? In the moon? In the purgatory? Or somewhere over the end of the rainbow?” the Pamalakaya leader asked.
The NHCS was built in 1983 to prevent or lessen the increase of salinity from Manila Bay and pollution from the Pasig River from entering Laguna de Bay during times of reverse flow. The NHCS is found on the confluence of Marikina and Pateros-Taguig rivers with Pasig River. This confluence is also the downstream endpoint of the Napindan Channel, which is the upper part of Pasig River that connects to Laguna de Bay.
Aside from preventing the reverse flow of Pasig River, the NHCS is also used for flood control. During the rainy season, most of the flooding along the Pasig River area is due to the increased water flow coming from Marikina River.
The Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City was constructed to divert much of this water from Marikina River directly into Laguna de Bay. By also closing the NHCS during times of rain, the water is effectively dammed in Laguna de Bay preventing it from flooding the downstream portions of Pasig River.
Pamalakaya and SLLM maintained that the destruction of NCHS is the immediate solution to permanently assure the disposal of excess waters in Laguna Lake to the Pasig River ,and then to Manila Bay. Both groups said the flooded areas which make inhabitable for 700,000 residents in Laguna province alone can be restored back to its previous state to allow lake inhabitants to resume living along the lake.
The groups said LLDA should stop all its reclamation and road dike projects along the lake because these projects are obstructing the flow of waters in Laguna Lake. The LLDA has been reclaiming thousands of hectares of public lands in Laguna Lake for various flagship projects like the Rizal International Airport and high end condominiums.
They said the forced relocation of 400,000 lakeshore residents is not the solution, and it will only complicate the problem of prevailing social injustice and would violate the housing rights of hundreds of thousands of people residing in and sourcing their livelihood from the fresh water resources of Laguna Lake. #