The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is fast approaching its Golden Anniversary. From its conception, the LLDA has dedicated itself in the preservation and development of the Laguna Bay and its tributaries. After President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in 2016, wherein he ordered the restoration of Laguna Bay, LLDA has increased its efforts in turning the dream of a clean, clear, and thriving Laguna Bay into a reality.

JANUARY

As part of this effort LLDA, led by its General Manager (GM) Jaime C. Medina, joined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other government agencies, LGUs, and volunteers in the launching of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program on 27 January 2019. Laguna Lake and Manila Bay are interconnected through the Pasig River and it is, therefore, difficult to clean one without cleaning the other. In the same manner, rivers and esteros that lead in and out the lake will continually cause pollution if left unchecked and so they were also subjected to cleanups in the months following Manila Bay Rehab.

Private companies have also been put under meticulous scrutiny. On 30 January 2019, LLDA held a press-briefing on the step-by-step process on the monitoring of business establishments to ensure their compliance to environmental regulations, and how their failure to follow these regulations can and will be use d as grounds for their closure.

On the same day, the Board Meeting for the month of January was held during which the program for the enhancement of LLDA’s water effluent testing was presented. The program aims to “outsource a force multiplier” to aid LLDA in increasing the number of industries it can monitor. This outsourcing program will be the first of its kind. Online application for LLDA clearance was also discussed during this meeting.

A board resolution was also presented in this meeting which stipulates that LLDA’s General Manager shall have the authority to represent LLDA in criminal actions against persons or entities which are in violation of the Republic Act No. 4850. After making the amendment that the General Manager shall not only represent LLDA in criminal actions but in civil and administrative cases as well, the Board eventually approved the resolution.

FEBRUARY

 Following the successful operations in January, LLDA continued its efforts in identifying and pursuing establishments that have generated pollutive wastewater in violation with R.A. 4870, as amended, and R.A. 9275, in accordance to its Implementing Rules and Regulation. Cease and Desist Orders, as well as notices were issued by LLDA to these businesses, therefore prohibiting them from operating, as per accordance to the law. A press conference with the media was also held in LLDA’s Green Building prior to the operations.

A month after its operations, updates on the Manila Bay rehabilitation program was raised in LLDA’s Board Meeting for the month of February. Outsourcing of services for the conduct of inspection and waste water sampling of industries within the Laguna de Bay region, as well as the revision on the fees and charges of the Shoreland Management Office (SMO) were among the things that were discussed for this month’s meeting.

MARCH

After the issuance of several CODs and NOVs to establishments along Manila Bay which were in violation of the General Effluent Standards, LLDA has held a press conference on 4 March 2019. During this press con LLDA has announced the temporary lifting of CDOs issued to a few establishments near Manila Bay. After complying with the requirements stipulated by LLDA, these establishments were issued with Temporary Lifting Orders (TLOs) which allowed them to implement pollution control programs that would eventually lead to full compliance with the General Effluent Standards. However, LLDA impressed upon these establishments and those that are yet to comply that they will be continuously subjected to meticulous scrutiny to ensure that they are strictly complying with environmental regulations.

Going back to matters concerning the Lake, a forum concerning the Laguna Lake Road Network was held on 14 March 2019 at the Asian Development Bank (Philippine Country Office) in Mandaluyong. In this forum, project proposals for a road network that aims to provide an alternate connection between the north and south side of the lake, and promoting economic growth by decreasing traffic, providing alternate routes for trade, and increasing the accessibility of popular landmarks around the lake boosting tourism in the process.

As part of the further development of Laguna Lake, another floating solar farm was inaugurated on 19 March 2019 in Cardon Rizal. This solar farm is the fourth solar farm to have been built on the lake. The other three are located in Los Baños and Bay in Laguna, and Baras in Rizal.

This floating solar farm in Rizal is a project of Solar Philippines in cooperation with LLDA and the Municipality of Cardona. In a Memorandum of Agreement between Solar Philippines and the University of Rizal System in Cardona, it is stipulated that the floating solar farm will supply electricity to URS ‘free of charge’, in return URS will have to conduct and environmental impact study on the effects of the floating solar farm on the aquatic ecosystem of the lake.

An update on the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program was presented during the Board Meeting held on 20 March 2019. DENR Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor informed the Board that the result of a boring test conducted along the Manila Yacht Club found that there is a three-meter deep layer of solid waste in the area which equates to three hundred thousand tons of existing garbage in Metro Manila. Due to Manila Bay Task Force’s lack of funds, they have invited several corporations to ‘adopt’ certain rivers for them to clean up and aide in the rehabilitation program considering that these corporations have greatly contributed to the amount of waste and pollution in the first place.

Usec. Rigor, however, stressed that the corporations’ adoption of the rivers will not exempt them from their liabilities and/or penalties when it comes to the cases filed against them. He also added that silt removal in the Manila Bay has started on 3 March 2019, with an Operation Center set up near the Manila Yacht Club. Reports consolidated from the Operation Center will be the basis of a new budget proposal for the clean up by the Task Force.

On 25 March 2019, LLDA signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with DENR-EMB which “fosters a partnership towards mutual cooperation to save Manila Bay.” This MOC stipulates that LLDA shall ‘enforce its mandate for water quality in the Manila Bay area’. Furthermore, it shall have the power to ‘deputize competent DENR-EMB personnel’ and assign them as environmental enforcers/officers, and assist in identifying establishments which have the potential to be sources of pollution. DENR-EMB on the other hand shall assist LLDA in ensuring that industrial, commercial, and other establishments are in compliance with the existing laws, rules and regulations of the LLDA, and they shall also provide LLDA with a master list of all the establishments that they have inspected within the Manila Bay area. Further stipulations in the MOC ensures that LLDA and DENR-EMB could work closely and in cooperation with one other to maximum efficiency help save Manila Bay.

LLDA also joined in on the celebration of Earth Hour on 30 March 2019. The management has encouraged its employees to participate by switching off non-essential lights in their homes for an hour.

Closing the month on a high note, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu lead the simultaneous cleanup of rivers and esteros all over Metro Manila. This is still part of the effort in cleaning Manila Bay. Sec. Cimatu has stressed that Manila Bay cannot be truly cleaned if the rivers and esteros leading up to it remained polluted. LLDA, led by GM Medina, joined the cleanup of rivers and esteros. Representatives from DENR-EMB were also present, as well as the chairmen of the barangays where the cleanups took place. Sec. Cimatu commended everyone’s efforts and extended his gratitude to everyone who participated.

APRIL

United for a cause, the start of April has seen the joint forces of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR – EMB) and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) as they formed a task force that will conduct inspections, surveillance, investigations, and monitoring and gathering of wastewater samples in the Manila Bay area that is within the LLDA jurisdiction. The special adjudication committee that would be created from this unity shall also have the power to hear and decide cases emanating from the inspections, investigations, and monitoring of the parties in the Manila Bay area.

Following this productive joint effort with the DENR-EMB, a ceremony was held for the oath taking of San Pedro Sub-WQMA Council Members and Stakeholders on April 05, 2019, in San Pedro City, Laguna. However, as discussing environmental issues is always relevant, the speakers have graced the event not just with congratulatory remarks but also of the current situation and issues of the environment. Some of the issues raised were the continuous discharging of the untreated waste water into rivers and creeks, and the illegal settlers around the bodies of water that contribute largely to the pollution in the waters in the Metro and in Laguna Lake. Other pertinent issues mentioned were soil erosion, landslide, flooding, and water pollution. Before the month ended, the board meeting for the month of April discussed the Memorandum of Cooperation between LLDA and DENR-EMB, as well as the 2018 Financial Performance Report and the Declaration of Dividends for corporate year 2018. Updates on the public consultation on the shore land fees and charges, as well as on the 2018 ZOMAG, and the water supply potential of the Laguna de Bay were also among the things discussed in the said meeting.

With the looming increase in shore land fees and charges, a public consultation was held by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) with the concerned sectors that will be affected by the proposed increase fees. These fees will cover the processing costs of the application for clearances and development of shore land areas within the Laguna de Bay. Furthermore, these fees were revised at reasonable rates sufficient enough to recover the costs of the services rendered, also considering the inflation rate since the year of the last revision of subject rates and charges, which was 2005. In celebration of Earth Month, a joint project by the Quezon City Government in cooperation with Mr. Romano Rios, Head of the Special Cleaning Section of the Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department; DENR-National Capital Region; Mr. Mansueto Bolivar, Solid Waste Management Division Chief of DENR-Environmental Management Bureau; and GM Medina of Laguna Lake Development Authority. The event was called ‘Trading of Single-use PET Bottles to Reusable Water Bottles’ and it ran from April 29, 2019 until May 03, 2019 at the LLDA Cafeteria. This project aims to promote the use of reusable materials instead of single-use plastic like PET bottles to help fight against plastic pollution. The activity involves the trading of 10 clear and transparent PET bottles for 1 reusable water bottle. Colored plastic bottles as well as 1.5L bottles were not accepted. Plastic bottles that were collected were sold to a recycler assigned for the waste market.

Originally, this activity was initially launched by the Quezon City government and as of 11 March 2019, 1,418 kilograms of PET bottles have been traded for 1,382 reusable water bottles. This activity also culminated the events that happened in the month of April.

MAY

Following a jam-packed month of April, a very promising month of May was seen with LLDA, as the agency, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Laguna Lakeshore Road Network (LLRN) Project. This will benefit and improve the transportation and the development in the areas surrounding Laguna Lake, and the lake itself.

Starting from Taguig, the construction of the Western side road will commence and will end at the National Road in Los Banos at its boundary with Laguna Bay, and the Central Circulation corridor from Taytay to Binangonan, to Pililla to Jala-Jala and across Santa Cruz.

Aside from supporting and assisting DPWH and providing relevant information for the undertaking, the LLDA shall also provide assistance and coordination with the LGUs and other associated associations in relocating the informal settlers that will be affected by the project.

More so, exciting opportunities await the Laguna Lake as new plans on its development are being hatched by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), and other pertinent groups and individuals such as the Palafox Associates, Management Association of the Philippines, and Republic Defenders.

In May 17, 2019, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, together with the people that can make these plans a reality held a meeting together to discuss the future of Laguna de Bay.

The existing uses and potentials of the lake and its surrounding lands were also discussed, and as well as the solutions to the threats and issues that arise within the parameters of the Laguna Lake region.

The renowned group of architects, the Palafox Associates, created a Laguna Lake Conceptual Development Plan that aims to develop Laguna Lake region through utilization of interagency help in undertaking development planning enforce laws and regulations; determining areas for urban and industrial, to agricultural and reforestation; control contaminants and reduce water consumption, potential for treatment and recycling; enhancing the economy of the area as the tourism improves, as well as the transportation, and the trees for paper production, for employment as well; achieve an overall balanced communities with full social cultural, and recreational facilities; and improve the sewerage system in each municipalities to prevent massive flooding, especially in Taguig where Napindan channel is located.

As part of the mandate of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on retirees, LLDA has given a celebratory program for Ms. Lida O. Galima, also known as ate Lids, who has been with LLDA since 1976, and has retired after more than four decades of service.

On May 20, an event filled with love and gratitude was held in appreciation for the ever hardworking and supportive ate Lids. As a member of the LLDA family for from 1976 to 2019, the event was emotional to some as ate Lids have said goodbye to the institution and to her colleagues for one last time.

At the end of the month, LLDA had a meeting with its fellow partners in championing the environment, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and the Republic Defenders. The meeting discussed the potentials of Laguna Lake, as well as the issues and probable solutions to those. A follow-up discussion on the Laguna Lake Conceptual Development Plan also took place in this meeting.

Before the month ended, the board meeting entered into a discussion on the rules and regulations implementing Board Resolution 540, series of 208, as well as the shoreland and management office revised fees and charges, the memorandum of agreement between LLDA and DPWH for the Laguna Lakeshore Road Network Project (LLRN), and the accomplishment report on the zoning of Sampaloc Lake in San Pablo, Laguna.

2019 is far from over and LLDA is far from finished when it comes to its efforts in helping rehabilitate Manila Bay and the esteros and rivers leading to and from it. Of course, LLDA will also continue its mission of restoring Laguna Bay, and its tributaries, into its former glory.

JUNE

As 2019 reaches its first half, efforts for the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program were still coming after its launch in January as another environmental award giving body, particularly for efforts done in Manila Bay, was launched recently.

Last June 05, a new search for environmental heroes is on as the Manila Bay-Ani Awards launched t the Manila Yacht Club, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. Aiming to give recognition to various people and groups that will bring forth good news and success stories on the environment, instead of highlighting the bad news, and rather inspire movement towards real and permanent change; this “one-year search for good news, success stories, and exemplary efforts to help clean the Manila Bay” will be geared in promoting positive reinforcement so as to encourage lasting developments in the betterment of the environment, particularly the Manila bay.

Environmental champion Atty. Antonio Oposa, in cooperation with Commodore Bobby Joseph of Manila Yacht Club, Capt. Rudy Estampador, Sen. Cynthia Villar, Rotary Club of Manila, various concerned government agencies including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), as well as several environmental group such as the Waste Management Movement (WMM), Zero Waste Philippines (ZWPH), and Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) led the launch of the Manila Bay-Ani awards. The geographic coverage of the search includes the entire Manila Bay basin: Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, and Cavite. People who have done their part in preserving, protecting, and improving the state of Manila Bay could be nominated.

The Manila Bay-Ani Awards hopes to inspire others to emulate the deeds of the awardees and encourage people not just in the Manila Bay region but throughout the country, and the world. Nomination forms can be secured from manilabayani6519@gmail.com. Filled-out nomination forms can be sent to the same email mentioned and must be addressed to Pasalamat sa Katauhan Movement Secretariat, Mr. Phil Camiguing and Ms. Cindy Pepito.

Earlier this month, Laguna de Bay experienced algal bloom, a phenomenon wherein bodies of water, especially those which are eutrophic (or those water bodies that has lots of nutrients), produce an abnormal increase in the population of algae. When these plants decompose, they use the dissolved oxygen in the water, and in the process, this becomes harmful for the fishes as it may lead to fish kill.

This is a periodic occurrence in the Laguna Lake. It is inevitable due to the climate in the Philippines, the natural characteristics of Laguna Lake, and the societal-environmental concerns of the Lake such as illegal dumping of waste, illegal fishpens, and illegal setters that occupied areas near the shoreland.

Such that, the LLDA is doing its best to address the said issue. However, the Authority does not have the equipment, such as a skimmer, that could address the algae in the entire area as of the moment. Temporary solutions such as the deployment of the environmental army of LLDA, as well as coordination with the LGUs of the concerned areas, are the solutions that could be done for now.

In relation to this, LLDA also released an advisory in Philippine Star, dated June 14, 2019, regarding the algal bloom. The cause and effect of the phenomenon was explained there, as well as the probability and possible ways of preventing the situation to occur again.

Additionally, last June 10, the LLDA-Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS), in partnership with the Concerned Employees of Laguna Lake Development Authority (CELLDA) organized and held the LLDA GAD-CELLDA Bazaar 2019. This activity is in line with the LLDA 50th Anniversary, and all proceeds of this series of bazaar shall go to the chosen beneficiary of the organizers by December 2019. The LLDA GAD-CELLDA Bazaar 2019 started on March 11 and it is continuously being held every month. The next Bazaar would be on July 08, during break time (from 12:00 NN to 01:00 PM).

As the Philippines celebrated its 121st Independence Day, with the theme, “Kalayaan 2019: Tapang ng Bayan, Malasakit sa Mamamayan,” the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) encouraged its offices, bureaus, and attached agencies to join the celebration by participating in a two-day exhibit from June 11-12 2019.

LLDA, in support and cooperation with this DENR-led activity, participated in the exhibit at the Agrifina Circle in Rizal Park through the Public Information Unit. The PIU disseminated Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials such as LLDA’s Annual Reports and LLDA’s official newsletter, Lakewatch, which showcased the beauty of the lake and contained updates on the developments LLDA has made in the Laguna Bay region.

During the Independence Day, LLDA personnel witnessed the Flag Raising Ceremony and the wreath laying activities at the Rizal Park Monument which was led by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and Vice President Leni Robredo.

On this important occasion, the LLDA aims to show all Filipinos the beauty of Laguna Lake, and how we can turn it into a thriving economic zone that serves to benefit all those who have made it their home. Through this year’s theme, we aim to inspire as well everyone to see Laguna Lake’s potential and take a more proactive role in nation-building and protecting our environment.

Progress and development is surely on the way for the Laguna de Bay Region as the ongoing plan on rehabilitating the Laguna de Bay is on the way as DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, as well as other concerned organizations and institutions like the Republic Defenders, Management Association of the Philippines, Palafox Associates, and other concerned organizations and institutions gathered together on June 19 to plan for the future of Laguna Lake. Last year, with the strong political will of President Duterte, he has ordered the six-month clean-up of Boracay, as well as the rehabilitation program of Manila de Bay this January. More so, issues on the Laguna Lake such as the algal bloom, unreclaimed lands, illegal settlers, and dumping of waste material will be addressed too by this master plan.

Despite the resolution of RA 9275, otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, it was only this year, 2019, under the administration of GM Medina, wherein the Sub-Water Quality Management Areas (Sub-WQMA) council has convened for the election of the council, on the water concessionaires, last June 21. Thus, the LLDA invited all water utilities in the Laguna de Bay Region to elect one (1) official representative to the Laguna de Bay WQMA Governing Board.

Among the attendees of the said election were Ms. Ma. Teresa Combatir from Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD); Atty. Roberto San Andres from the Local Water Utilities Administration; Engr. Joevic Calvadores and Mr. Kervin Jimenez from GMA Water District; Engr. Aris Alcantara from Santa Cruz Water District; Mr. Antonio Limongco and Mr. Nelson Santiago from the Cabuyao Water District; Eng. Elizaldy Novillos from the Calamba Water District; Engr. Benedicto Capule from Tanauan Water District; Engr. Teodullo Custodio from Tanay Water District; Ms. Aniline B. Francia and Engr. Nieves Manabo from Carmona Water District; Mr. Dickson San Juan from Morong Water District; and Ms. Marnelle Maala-Reyes from Teresa Water District;

Mr. San Juan was the sole-elect nominee for the Principal Representative of the Sub-WQMA and the eventual winner of the said position, while Ms. Aniline Francia was nominated for the position of the Alternate Representative, along with another nominee, and she eventually won the post.

Before the half of the year ended, LLDA’s board meeting discussed the other pertinent issues surrounding the lake. One of those was the illegal settlers along Bicutan area, wherein a five-year old case was petitioned just as to reclaim the land. LLDA does its best to reclaim these lands, which became a dumpsite and a land filled with scoundrels over time – that makes it dangerous not just to the environment but to human safety as well.

The previous Sub-WQMA election was also discussed. Also, Ms. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh was introduced to the LLDA Board of Directors as its new member. Usec. Teh is the current Undersecretary for Climate Change and Mining Concerns, designated as Officer in Charge, Office of the Undersecretary for Attached Agencies, in concurrent capacity based on the DENR Special Order No. 2019 – 330 dated May 27, 2019.


SUPPLEMENTAL REPORTS

As mentioned above, earlier this January 2019, the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program was launched by the DENR, in accordance to President Duterte’s order to clean up the Manila Bay. LLDA eagerly supports this program since its launch. Aside from the active participation in the cleanup, the agency has continuously conducted inspections and monitoring of the establishments along the Manila Bay area as it also falls under the Authority’s jurisdiction.

Thousands of establishments and hotels (5,436 overall) along Manila Bay as of June 03, 2019 were inspected and the Agency discovered that less than 3% of the overall count comply with having a sewage treatment plant (STP) or a waste treatment facility. While only 28.2% or 1,529 establishments and hotels had septic tanks as a domestic waste treatment. On the other hand, less than 13% (696 overall) establishments and hotels were interconnected/partially interconnected only to the Central STP Facilities.

Along with these inspections on wastewater treatment facilities and sewage treatment plants of establishments comes along the inspection for LLDA Clearances and Discharge Permits. During the Manila de Bay Rehabilitation Program, LLDA has monitored and inspected establishments along Manila de Bay (from Roxas Boulevard to the surrounding areas near Manila Bay eg. Ermita).

As of June 03, 2019, LLDA has issued Notice of Violation (NOVs) to 81 establishments, while there were 13 firms who received Ex-Parte Order (EPO). Most of the recipients were residential/commercial buildings, by which 47 out of the 81 receivers of the NOVs, while 8 out of 13 among the total recipients of the EPO. On the other hand, 18 establishments received Cease and Desist Order (CDO), by which 13 out of 18 recipients were restaurants, night clubs, or commissary.

With LLDA’s mission “to manage, develop and transform the Laguna de Bay Region into a vibrant economic zone through conservation of lake basin resources and good governance with the participation of empowered and responsible stakeholders,” it has been one of Laguna de Bay region’s safeguard against pollution ever since it was established. For almost five decades now, the agency has been monitoring, inspecting, and issuing legal orders to establishments that have been proved to cause and release pollutive wastewater into the environment, thus protecting both the communities and the environment.

In accordance to Memorandum Order No. 97-99, series of 1997, Guidelines in Determining the Degree of Violations and Corresponding Level of Sanctions, the LLDA has the authority to issue the respective sanction, with regards to the standards ascribed by the law, on the concerned establishments.

As of June 03, 2019, almost half of the non-compliant establishments that were given Notice of Violation (NOV) have already complied with the pollution control law and its implementing rules and regulations.

For those issued with a Cease and Desist Order, half of them had a DENR accredited hauler to siphon away their wastewater, while one fourth of the total establishments had now interconnected the sources of their wastewater with the MWSI.

In the recent rehabilitation program of the Manila Bay, at least 346 establishments were found to be operating without an LLDA Clearance and a Discharge Permit, by which more than half of the violators were either residential/commercial/office building or condominium. Other violators include restaurants, schools, hotels, car wash and gasoline stations, service-oriented establishments, and recreational parks.

As mentioned, LLDA has been issuing clearances and permits to establishments and industries that are within its jurisdiction for decades already. Some of LLDA’s documentary releases are the Discharge Permit, the LLDA Clearance, the Annual Aquastructure Permits, the Lake Occupancy Permit (for the Seven Lakes), the Barging Clearance, and the Water Permit.

Thus, the number of new applications for the discharge permit that was processed reached up to 278 applications from January to May 2019; while the applications for the renewal of the discharge permit received amounted up to 999 requests. There were also requests for the exemption on the discharge permit, which reached up to 74. Applications on revalidation were also submitted to the agency, which totalled up to 333 applications.

So far, a total of 10,902 wet industries were recorded to be regulated, while a total of 11,036 were the regulated dry industries. With these two combined, only 11,065 industries have a LLDA Clearance, and 2,962 industries have a valid Discharge Permit.

As the year ends its first semester, the Authority has accomplished great things not just for the Laguna de Bay region and its stakeholders but as well as to its neighboring bodies of water such as the Manila Bay. Thus, the Laguna Lake Development Authority aims to do more for the Lake and its stakeholders on the next half of the year as there are greater things to look forward.

Ibalik ang Diwa ng Lawa!