By Billy Javier-Reyes, Rey Manangan and Bb. Joyce Cabral
Cardona, Rizal- The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), together with church groups affiliated with the protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) kicked off a relief drive in Barangay Ticulio, in Cardona, Rizal, which is part of Talim Island in Laguna Lake.
The relief drive billed as Operation Temptation Island carried the theme “Relief, Relieve, Survive” and was joined by 30 volunteers who led the distribution of relief goods of 500 packs for the same number of fishing families in sitions Cavite, Poblacion, Tondo, Sapang Palay and Masangkay, all in Barangay Ticulio, one of the submerged coastal villages in the island.
Because the barangay remains 9 feet water deep, volunteers traversed makeshift bridges to dispatch the goods to calamity stricken residents.
Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz clarified that Operation Temptation Island is not a remake of a classic campy film in the 80s known as Temptation Island directed by the late director Joey Gosiengfiao for Regal Films which starred Dina Bonnevie and former beauty queens Jennifer Cortez, Azenith Briones and Deborah Sun.
“Operation Temptation Island is a relief op, and not a film remake, nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
“Talim Island is a total paradise because of its natural beauty and nearness to the mainland of Rizal and Laguna provinces. Real estate developers and land speculators are very much eager to grab lands in the island because of tourism potential of the island. In fact, Malacanang has marked Talim Island for flagship eco-tourism projects,” Corpuz explained.
“The objectives of our relief drive are to provide immediate relief to the people of Talim Island, inform island people about the real cause why Talim Island and the entire 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake remain in environmental disarray and what to do to address the current problems posed by the highly critical water level in the lake,” the Pamalakaya information officer added.
Upon reaching the small fish port in Cardona, relief participants from Manila took a 20-minute boat ride on their way to Barangay Ticulio where they were met and assisted by Barangay officials and Pamalakaya-Rizal chairperson—Romy Antazo.
Antazo, a long time fisherfolk leader of Pamalakaya and convener of Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) informed relief operation participants and the 500 relief beneficiaries that the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was principally liable for the sudden rise in the water of Laguna Lake to critical level.
He said the main cause of the flooding in more than 30 towns in Laguna, Rizal and the National Capital Region is the closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), which prevented the excess waters of Laguna Lake to pass through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay.
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.
The Pamalakaya official in Rizal maintained that the dismantling 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. Antazo 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 in the lakeshore towns of Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa.
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 economic and housing rights of hundreds of thousands of people along the lake. #