Congressman Dan Fernandez has called on national government agencies and local stakeholders to help rehabilitate Laguna Lake, the country's largest inland body of water, citing potential benefits to the entire nation, particularly in terms of revenues from tourism. The lake currently suffers from siltation that has significantly decreased its carrying capacity.
“I think it’s incumbent upon all of us (to rehabilitate) you know the biggest lake in the country and second in Southeast Asia, and the source of potable water of Metro Manila and the whole Laguna, Rizal, and the whole region. Ang laking bagay nito sa atin eh, itong Laguna Lake eh, imagine kung mabuhay natin ‘yong (Laguna Lake is important; imagine if we revived) Laguna Lake 20 or 30 or 50 years ago?” Fernandez said, during the House of Representatives committee on ecology hearing on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
Fernandez proposed relaunching the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project, which was originally crafted by Belgian Company Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC) and would have specified reclamation using the material that would be recovered from dredging operations.
“Please help us, kasi we cannot do this on our own. Remember, hindi porque’t ako’y tiga (It’s not just because I’m from) Laguna that I wanted it to be done, because ‘yung economic gains would not only be for our region but for the whole of the Philippines,” he said.
The hearing aimed to review proposals for the revival of the P18 billion Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project, which was initiated under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's term but was shelved during the term of her successor, former President Benigno Aquino III, leading to lawsuits. The National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Laguna Lake Development Authority, and water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad attended the hearing.
Fernandez noted that the project would have turned Laguna Lake into a profitable site for the tourism industry. The project was shelved during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, leading to lawsuits from BDC as it was believed to be a breach of contract.