MANILA, (PNA) — Buhay party list Rep. Lito Atienza on Friday urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to seriously consider saving three lakes by liberating the big body of water from fishpens blamed as one of the major reasons of massive flooding in Laguna, Cavite and the southern parts of Metro Manila.
Atienza said giving the lakes of Laguna, Taal and Manila Bay a breather will also afford opportunity to small fisherfolk a chance to earn extra livelihood.
“It has always been my contention that we must liberate our bodies of water from fishpens and fish cages in all forms and sizes. Almost all our water bodies, like the Laguna Lake and Manila Bay are in a state of continued deterioration because of the proliferation of fishpens which ironically, are owned by big businessmen and even foreigners.
With these fishpens, ordinary fisherfolk are deprived of their livelihood and it is not surprising that they now comprise the poorest sector,” said Atienza during the budget deliberation of BFAR at the House of Representatives.
He said the recent flooding in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cavite, among other provinces brought by typhoons and tropical depressions has been caused by the overflowing of water basins and lakes, which should have been catch basin for rainwater.
He said he is surprised that BFAR, one of the attached agencies of the Department of Agriculture is claiming that “doing so would disrupt the food supply for Metro Manila.”
“We cannot allow the dismantling of fishpens because this would lead to disruption of food supply in Metro Manila,” said Rep. Eric Singson, the budget sponsor of BFAR speaking on behalf of the bureau.
Singson, vice chairman of the committee on Appropriations, claimed that BFAR is continuously helping small fisherfolk by giving them additional livelihood projects to cushion the impact of poverty.
According to Atienza, he is not convinced with the allegation of BFAR, arguing that “removing fishpens would not only allow the ordinary fisherfolk to improve on their livelihood but would also free up the waterbodies from pollution caused by the obstructive fishpens.”
“We have been blessed with abundant natural resources, primary of which are our 94 lakes and 421 rivers. We have more than enough to provide for everyone and I don’t see any reason why our fisherfolk should go hungry and become the poorest sector of our society,” the former DENR secretary said.
Atienza moved for the deferment of the BFAR budget pending the submission of the list of poor fisherfolk beneficiaries they are claiming to have served.