MANILA, April 13 — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as other agencies concerned aim to develop this year a comprehensive master plan for saving Laguna de Bay, the Philippines' largest but dying freshwater body.
"This aims to ensure that what we'll do is correct," Environment chief Ramon Paje said Wednesday on the side of the Communication and News Exchange Forum that Philippine Information Agency organized with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and which DENR hosted at its headquarters in Quezon City.
PCOO head Secretary Sonny Coloma agrees, noting work on the lake requires thorough planning to maximize resources appropriated for the purpose.
"Correct analysis of a problem will help yield the correct solution," he said at the forum.
Laguna de Bay continues reeling from environmental degradation and other threats which further reduce this water body's water carrying capacity and socio-economic potential.
In recent years, overflowing of water in the lake submerged surrounding communities for weeks.
Paje reported that the DENR agency Laguna Lake Development Authority already completed framework for the master plan so government can develop a wholistic guide for saving the lake and boosting its role as an economic driver.
"We should be able to present this by December to Malacanang," he said.
The government needs the guide since work involved will go beyond merely dredging Laguna de Bay, he noted.
He urged the need for a comprehensive plan, noting Laguna de Bay will require major activities like rehabilitating the watershed where it's located to help minimize pollution there.
"It's a big undertaking requiring possibly over PhP200 billion," he said.
He also said work on saving Laguna Lake will continue beyond the present administration's term ending 2016.
Earlier, the government rejected an PhP18 billion project to dredge Laguna de Bay, believing a more comprehensive approach is needed to rehabilitate the water body where an estimated four million tons of silt get deposited annually.
"In that project, the lake will be dredged by one percent only, so its water holding capacity will merely increase by a few millimeters and the silt will seep back in three years but we'll spend billions of pesos for the undertaking," Paje said.
Aside from dredging, he noted soil stabilization along the lake, flood control and other activities must be undertaken. (PNA)