The two-day Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP) Forum on November 22-23, 2016 at Summit Ridge, Tagaytay City, tackled the present issues and concerns hounding Laguna Lake.
This forum aims at obtaining experts’ opinion and pertinent science-based information necessary in drafting multi-sectoral policy recommendations on reconditioning Laguna Lake. These recommendations will eventually be submitted to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for proper turnover to the concerned agencies such as the Office of the President, House of Representatives and the Senate. The forum also aims to establish a program template to be used as reference for future similar program targeting other lake ecosystems in the Philippines.
UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. gave his welcome remarks and expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders in participating in this forum.
The forum proceedings will be published for dissemination to various stakeholders and policymakers. Among the papers presented includes the “Water Quality of Laguna de Bay in Relation to Biological Pollution by Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, Professor Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB; “Laguna de Bay Watersheds and Water Availability” by Dr. Guillermo Q. Tabios III, Professor, Institute of Civil Engineering, UP Diliman; “Assessment of Geophysical Hazards in Southwest Laguna de Bay: Insights from Geological; Geomorphological and Ground Penetrating Radar Data” by Dr. Noelynna T. Ramos, Professor, Natinal Institute of Geological Sciences, UP Diliman; “Estrogenic Pollutants: Impacts on Reproductive Health of Fish in Laguna de Bay” by Dr. Michelle V. Paraso, College of Veterinary Medicine, UPLB; and “Tourism and Other Ecotourism Services” by Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB.
Invited are various stakeholders from LGUs situated along the shores of Laguna Lake, fisherfolk organizations, national government agencies and international research agencies.
Also presented during the forum is the House Bill on Creating the Laguna Lake Conservation Authority (LLCA), to repeal R.A. 4850 also known as the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) Act of 1966. The bill is authored by AKBAYAN Partylist Representative Tomasito Villarin. Mr. Conrad Castillo, Jr., Legisative Assistant, who represented the Congressman Villarin in the forum, said there is an urgent need to revise how the government is managing lakes, particularly the Laguna de Bay, which is severely affected by various economic, domestic and industrial factors. “This house bill is waiting for its first reading, possibly this week, and after that, automatically a technical working group will be established for this proposed law”, he said. “We welcome this forum initiated by SESAM-UPLB, and we are interested in continuing coordination with the academe”, Mr. Castillo added.
For his part, LLDA General Manager Neric Acosta, welcomes the proposal by Rep. Villarin, but he reminded that the proposal should not undermine the accomplishments made by the LLDA in the last 50 years. “LLDA has a clear mandate, which includes the conservation of Laguna Lake”, Mr. Acosta said. He also laments other problems, which makes it very difficult to manage the lake with other stakeholders due to several factors. “Many LGUs in CALABARZON did not include the understanding of ecosystem in their land-use plans”, Mr. Acosta added.
The LEAP Forum is supported by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP)-DOST, DENR-LLDA and the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).