Tag Archives: Laguna

Fishers swimming with fish, but income went down further

By Sarsi Pimentel, Rey Manangan, Lady Michelle Adobe and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Laguna Lake fishermen are reportedly swimming with fish nowadays, bringing home as much as 100 kilos per fishing trip but their income dropped to all time low.

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said fisherfolk in Laguna Lake are literally and figurative swimming with fish particularly big head, milkfish and tilapia due to rainy season and the overflow of some of fish pens in the 94,000 hectare brackish lake water.

But Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said despite the bounty harvest over the last four weeks or one month, the small fisherfolk of Laguna Lake are wallowing in poverty because the farm gate price of fish in the lake was drastically cut by 1,000 to 25,000 percent per kilo of whatever water products fished from the lake.

The Pamalakaya official who went to Binangonan fish port over the weekend to check farm gate prices of fish said he was shocked to learn that the farm gate price of big head (sometimes called or mistaken as maya-maya) is now P 1 per kilo compared to previous farm gate price of P 25 per kilo or a drop of 24,000 percent.

“One fisherman whom we interviewed last week said his catch was 145 kilos and he only received P 145 for the entire catch or P 1 per kilo. He spent 5 liters of gasoline or P 230 and lost 85 pesos. This is unfair, very unfair,” added France.

The Pamalakaya official said in the aftermath of typhoon Basyang, fish traders buying milkfish in Laguna Lake fish ports buy milkfish at a rate of P 10 per kilo, one of the lowest in the history of fish trading in the lake.

Cartel blamed

France blamed the fish cartel operating in Laguna Lake for the low price of fisherfolk harvests. He said prior to typhoon Basyang, farm gate prices of bangus and big head are pegged at average prices of P 40 and P 20 per kilo respectively. Pamalakaya said fish traders are making huge profits by selling milk fish at P 80 per kilo and big head at 40 per kilo to fish retailers.

The group said aside from unscrupulous fish traders, multinational oil companies are largely to blame for the rock bottom drop in the income of Laguna Lake fishermen because of perpetual hikes and high rise cost of petroleum products used by small fisherfolk.

“The small fisherfolk are exploited, the fish eating public is summarily abused by the fish cartel operating like a long-running syndicate in Laguna Lake. We ask Gov. Junjun Ynares of Rizal, Gov. EJ Ejercito of Laguna and the mayors of Laguna Lake in Rizal and Laguna and National Capital Region to investigate this perpetual exploitation of Laguna Lake fishers and the consuming public and stop this 24 hour, seven day exploitation,” said Pamalakaya.

Collective petition

Pamalakaya said they will file a collective petition before the governor offices of Ynares and Ejercito and the rest of the local government units surrounding the lake to raise the farm gate price of milkfish by an average of P 40 to P 50 per kilo and big head by an average of P 20 per kilo to compensate with the high rising cost of production in fishing.

The militant group said 80 percent of the production cost goes to diesel and gasoline per fishing trip. Pamalakaya said their leaders in the national office and their chapters around the lake are willing to dialogue and come face to face with members of the fish cartel to discuss this problem of six feet below ground prices of fish products in Laguna Lake.

Income of small fishers in Laguna Lake has drastically reduced over the last 15 years due to diminishing fish catch, increasing prices of petroleum products and low farm gate prices. From a high of 10 to 15 kilos of average catch per day, today’s prevailing fish catch is pegged between 3 kilos to 5 kilos per day and income dropped at all time low from P 500 to P 1,000 per fishing trip to P 50 to P 150 per fishing trip.

The militant group clarified that despite their demand for the increase in farm gate prices, fish traders could still enjoy at least P 20 gross profits and could still sell milkfish in the market at P 70 per kilo and big head at P 40 per kilo which are lower compared to the prevailing price of milkfish at P 100 to P 120 per kilo and big head which can still be sold at P 50 per kilo which is way below the prevailing market price of P 80 to P 100 per kilo.

“Our proposal will give small fisherfolk decent income and at the same time will give the consuming public a cheaper price for fishery products,” said Pamalakaya. (With reports from Handog Malaya Vera and Billy Javier Reyes) #

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Raps ready against PGMA, LLDA chief

By Billy Javier Reyes and Lollipop de los Reyes

Antipolo City-Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) agreed to file criminal and administrative charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) chair Edgar Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman, whom they blamed as masterminds behind Laguna Lake’s swallowing of more than 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region.

Since last week, leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM had been conducting formal and informal consultations among fishermen, farmers and urban poor groups in Laguna Lake on the filing of class suit and other appropriate charges against President Arroyo and Mr. Manda. They asserted that the continuing closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) was the immediate cause why majority of towns along Laguna Lake were and are still submerged to 14.5 meter deep since typhoon Ondoy stormed the country on Sept.26.

“The collective sentiment of the people in Laguna Lake is loud and clear– they hold the Office of the President and LLDA responsible for this across-the-lake calamity, and they want to bring them to court and to the court of public opinion,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap, also convener of SLLM said their group had also consulted advocacy groups based in Metro Manila who are also organizing urban poor, women and worker groups along Laguna Lake about their plans to charge President Arroyo and Mr. Manda before the Office of the Ombudsman. He said the response was very positive and the filing of case against Arroyo and Manda may take place next month.

“The Laguna Lake people in particular and the Filipino people in general have a case against Arroyo and Manda, and this will be billed in contemporary history as People of the Philippines versus President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA general manager Edgar Manda,” the Pamalakaya official said.

Hicap said aside from Arroyo, other government officials will also be included in the charge sheet, but the Pamalakaya leader said they will reveal the names on the eve of the filing of charges against the President and the LLDA general manager.
Pamalakaya said aside from filing criminal and other appropriate charges, it will join forces with SLMM in the signature campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional dismantling of NCHS. The group said fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists have committed to initiate the campaign and gather signatures that will press the immediate removal of the controversial structure constructed in 1983.

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.

Temptation Island

Yesterday, Pamalakaya, party list group Anakpawis and Oplan Sagip Kanayunan in cooperation with church groups affiliated with the protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Task Force Dambana 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 bannered the theme “Relief, Relieve, Survive” was joined by 30 volunteers who helped in the distribution of relief goods of 500 packs for the same number of fishing families in flooded sitios of Cavite, Poblacion, Tondo, Sapang Palay and Masangkay, all in barangay Ticulio, in Cardona, Rizal.

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.

“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 its tourism potential. 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 root causes why Talim Island and the entire 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake are in shambles 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 30-minute boat ride on their way to Barangay Ticulio where they were met and assisted by Barangay officials and Pamalakaya-Rizal chairperson Romy Antazo. #

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Lakeshore groups pressed dismantling of Napindan

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. #

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Lakeshore towns already flooded ahead of tropical storm Ondoy, says fishers group

Lakeshore towns already flooded ahead of tropical storm Ondoy, says fishers group
By Bb. Joyce Cabral

Binangonan, Rizal- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday revealed that towns surrounding Laguna Lake were already submerged in waters ahead of the arrival of tropical storm Ondoy.

Reports from field coordinators of Pamalakaya 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 Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS) that will dispose excess waters in the lake. Tropical storm Ondoy only fast tracked the commencement of the super calamity,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya official added: “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.”

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 said LLDA is complicating the situation by endorsing the forced eviction of 100,000 lakeshore residents mostly small fishermen and poor people who have been living in Laguna Lake surroundings for generations.

“The forced relocation of 100,000 people is not the solution. All it takes is simple science and basic logic. Since the closure of NCHS is the most obvious and compelling reason behind the flooding of Laguna Lake, the best thing to do is to open the NCHS, which has been closed by LLDA for year now. The situation merits the opening of NCHS and let the excess waters pass through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay,” the group said.

The Pamalakaya official said LLDA chair Manda should exercise common sense in dealing with the flood problem in connection with the rising water level of Laguna Lake, instead of displaying extreme act of paranoia and going hysterical all over the public.

“Right now, the water level in Laguna Lake is higher than Manila Bay, and its only logical therefore, to allow it to be disposed on its way to Manila Bay by opening the NCHS,” France explained.

In a press briefing held last week at the headquarters of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), LLDA chair Manda said typhoon “Pepeng” will dump half of the rains that tropical storm Ondoy brought to the National Capital Region on Sept.26, the water level of Laguna Lake may break its all-time record of 14.62 meters, possibly sinking more coastal barangays in Metro Manila and Rizal province.

The LLDA chief made the projection to justify the removal of some 100,000 residents, specially those residing on the shorelines of Taguig, Cainta, Pasig, Taytay and Muntinlupa, in response to the preemptive evacuation called by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

According to Manda, the waters of Laguna Lake cannot easily pass through the Napindan Channel in Taguig into the Pasig River and then to Manila Bay because of some 25,000 informal settlers blocking the passageway. He specifically identified a community of about 25,000 families in Sitio Lupang Arenda—straddling Taguig, Taytay and Cainta.

However, Pamalakaya said the people of Laguna Lake should not be deceived by the latest escapade of LLDA general manager that his recommendation is meant to spare people’s lives from the wrath of typhoon Pepeng.

“Since he assumed the LLDA general managership, what Mr. Manda really has in mind is the forcible removal of 100,000 families along the lake so Malacanang could proceed with the reclamation of 5,000 hectares in Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa, where an international airport glamorized with high rise condominiums and first-class hotels will be constructed,’ the fisherfolk group said.

Pamalakaya also blamed the widespread reclamation in Laguna Lake as culprits to the sudden increase in the water level of the lake for the construction of road and dikes from Taguig to Taytay (9.8 kilometers), Bicutan to Taguig (9.5 kilometers), Sta. Rosa to Calamba City section (28 kilometers) Bay to Sta.Cruz in Laguna (32 kilometers), Siniloan to Kalayaan section (28 kilometers) and Tanay section (10 kilometers).

Pamalakaya also said aside from road and dike construction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the LLDA will proceed with the additional reclamation of lake waters in Taguig (3,000 hectares), Muntinlupa (5,000 hectares) and Los Baños in Laguna (500 hectares), which the group said will further worsen the flood problem in the National Capital Region and nearby towns of Laguna and Rizal provinces because these reclamation projects will serve as obstruction to the natural flow of waters in the lake.

Pamalakaya theorized that LLDA chair Manda is using the calamity situation as trick to really evict lakeshore folks since that has been Malacanang and the authority’s grand design which is to remove lake people to prepare Laguna Lake for the grand takeover of big businesses, who are planning to set up big infrastructure projects like high rise condominiums and posh hotels along the lake’s coastlines. (with a report from Billy Javier Reyes)

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