The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has warned the public against falling prey to individuals trying to extort money in exchange for supposed exemption from the ongoing operation to clear Laguna de Bay of fish pens and other illegal structures.
This came about when Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Joey Medina reported that his office has received information that scammers who identify themselves as being well connected can provide exemptions from the dismantling operation for a fee.
DENR Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, who is also the head of the National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force (NAECTF) in charge of the dismantling operation, said the DENR does not provide any exemption to owners or operators of fish pens and cages in Laguna Lake.
"No one is untouchable," Valdez said, “as everyone has to go to enable the lake to have breathing spell to rejuvenate”.
Last Thursday, the DENR, together with the Laguna Lake Development Authority, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Army and the Philippine Coast Guard, began a massive operation to demolish fish pens, fish cages and other illegal structures in Laguna Lake.
The dismantling operation is in line with President Duterte's directive in his first State of the Nation Address last July to dismantle big fish pens and cages in Laguna Lake to allow small fishermen to gain access to traditional fishing grounds.
Valdez, meanwhile, urged the public to report to the DENR if ever they receive calls or approached by said extortionists so the agency could respond accordingly.