WATCH: Sa Utos ni President Duterte , pagbabaklas ng illegal fishpen at cages itutuloy ng DENR
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) began its massive dismantling of Laguna Lake fish pens on Thursday, January 26. The department led Thursday's operations together with the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine Army. The target is to clear around 100 hectares of fish pens in Binangonan, Rizal owned by two firms: Christian Fishing Corporation and East West Fishing Corporation. Data from the LLDA showed there were a total of 3,246 structures (fish pens and fish cages) in the lake as of December 2016. For the rest of the Laguna Lake, LLDA General Manager Joey Medina said they want to clear 2,000 hectares of fish pens, especially those along navigational lanes, before the end of June. Materials dismantled by the government will be under its custody and will be stored in Binangonan and Cardona in Rizal. Some fish pen owners will be given until March to harvest their fish. Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez said they will organize people's groups to help in the dismantling. "[We want to] deliver by the time na 'di na niya punahin 'yung Laguna de Bay sa kanyang State of the Nation Address," Valdez said, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte. (We want to deliver, so that the President won't criticize Laguna de Bay in his State of the Nation Address.) Duterte vowed in his first SONA to transform Laguna Lake into an ecotourism zone, so that "poor fishermen will have priority in its entitlement." Medina, who just assumed office last Monday, January 23, admitted that the Laguna Lake has been neglected not only by the government but also by the communities living near it. The government hopes that fishermen will benefit from these efforts to restore the Laguna Lake to its "original, pristine condition.