TAYTAY, Rizal, May 17 (PIA) -- The Second National Congress on Philippine Lakes organized by the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research (PCAMRD) was held on April 27-29, 2011 in partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) at U.P. Los Baños in Laguna.
With the theme, “Building on the Pillars on Integrated Lake Basin Management”, LakeCon 2011 brought together stakeholders, policymakers and the academe to discuss the Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) as an approach to help the country achieve a common framework for lake management.
In his welcome remarks, SEARCA Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit, Jr. conveyed the need to strengthen partnerships and linkages among key stakeholders in the management of the country’s lakes to address its common issues.
Accordingly, ILBM integrates six management elements, namely, institutions, policy, stakeholder participation, technology, science and finances. All of which are fundamental to maintaining the services and resource values of lakes.
UPLB Chancelor Dr. Luis Velasco encouraged the participants to focus their efforts to be more responsive to the needs of the average man. While Los Baños Mayor Anthony Genuino emphasized the major role that local governments play in lake management.
Meanwhile, General Manager Rod Cabrera of the Laguna Lake Development Authority chronicled the experiences in the management of the country’s biggest lake. Issues that confronted the Authority range from socio-economic to political and environmental which have all intertwined.
This includes the fast growing industry transformation, the burgeoning population, the degrading quality of the watershed, and the lack of political will among implementers within the Laguna Lake, among others.
On a positive note, the present administration has expanded the thrusts of LLDA from mere regulatory to more developmental primarily on improving the lake’s potential as source of food, water, electricity, transportation, tourism which will generate thousands of jobs. These developments will allow the Authority to take off from its dependency on polluters as source of revenues through the Environmental User Fee System. In addition, LLDA is now tapping the private sector in the management of the lake through projects like “Adopt-a-River”.
One of the keynote speakers at the Congress was Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. He supports the need for an integrated approach on lake management. On top of his concerns is the safeguarding of water resources to provide food security in the country as agricultural lands are rapidly being converted into industrial and residential areas. It is for this reason that he is authoring a bill on National Land Use Plan which will delineate, once and for all, the zones devoted for agriculture, industrial, and residential uses. “This bill greatly concerns the lakes and rivers since 70 percent of land areas are also watershed areas” the Senator said.
On the technical aspect, Professor Rogelio Concepcion of SESAM provided a background on Geographic Information System and how it can be used to better asses and manage the lakes.
The three-day lake congress also included technical and workshop sessions which highlight scientific and technical foundation as well as lessons and success stories in designing lake basin management programs.
Back in 2003, the First LakeCon pave the way to the formation of the Philippine Lakes Network (PlaNet), a group of individuals who are committed to strengthening partnerships and information sharing on the status of lake and inland resources in the country. (CPG/Martin Antonio, LLDA/PIA-Calabarzon)