By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The business community has strongly urged President Duterte to do a “Boracay” by ordering a “Save Laguna Lake action” directing all national and local government units and instrumentalities to immediately implement all existing laws, rules, regulations and directives to protect and rehabilitate Laguna Lake and the forest cover of its watershed in the surrounding hills and mountains.
In a statement, the Management Association of the Philippines said the President should issue an Executive Order to effect a holistic rehabilitation of Laguna Lake to address water security and the environment.
MAP cited Duterte “for seeing the despoilage of Boracay and exercising strong political will by taking draconian measures, including its temporary closure, to rehabilitate and save it from human overexploitation. Now we see the very rewarding positive results even after just a brief period.” Duterte closed the island paradise for 6 months to undergo thorough rehabilitation.
In the case of Laguna Lake, MAP wants the government to strictly enforce existing laws that prohibit, under pain of penalty, the dumping of waste into the lake. Polluting industries, such as factories, fish culture, poultry and livestock farms, must be strictly regulated and restricted to a sustainable level.
Other sources of pollution must be prohibited, and these include the use of vessels powered by fossil fuels. Only vessels using clean energy, such as electric or natural gas, shall be allowed as is required in environmentally protective countries.
The business group has pushed for the banning of all development and structures within a no-build zone starting from its high water mark to within preferably no less than fifty meters, especially in populated areas, to allow space for public recreation and enjoyment of a national resource.
“We urge PRRD to direct the national and local water boards to render and tap Laguna Lake as a dependable, inexhaustible and proximately-located source of raw water for Metro Manila and the lake’s surrounding communities, with other sources such as dams serving a complementary role to ensure water security under all circumstances, including potentially catastrophic earthquakes.
Further, that all resources, including funding from whatever source, be devoted for the said purpose,” MAP said.
Necessarily, massive reforestation must be undertaken in the surrounding hills and mountains to enhance the productivity of the watershed. Ideally, indigenous wood species, fruit-bearing trees and bamboo should be utilized.
The group also urged Duterte to direct the Department of Transportation to plan and implement a lake ferry transportation system to provide convenient, affordable and reliable connectivity between the towns and cities around the lake.