Sotto: Senate panel to probe water shortage next Tuesday
MANILA, Philippines — On the prodding of Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the Senate committee on public services will look next week into the water shortage that is now affecting parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.
Sotto on Wednesday told INQUIRER.net that Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the committee, will conduct the hearing on water shortage on Tuesday.
“I already called Grace and asked her to call for a hearing asap (as soon as possible). Tuesday daw,” Sotto said in a text message.
He also said he himself would file a resolution hopefully within the day, directing the said committee to conduct the probe.
“Yes, try ko today,” Sotto said when asked if he would file a resolution calling for a probe.
Manila Water Co. has been implementing water service interruptions across Metro Manila and Rizal province due to limited water supply.
READ: Dry taps spark outcry
Senator Sonny Angara also urged Congress and government regulators to probe the cause of the shortage, with the goal of coming up with long-term solutions to ensure adequate water supply.
“It’s very concerning. We have to ask a certain number of questions because we get conflicting reports. Is it a problem of service delivery?,” Angara said in a statement.
He noted that while Manila Water, which supplies water to the east zone of Metro Manila including Rizal province had been suffering supply problems, its west zone counterpart Maynilad Water Services Inc. is not.
“One service provider is saying there is a problem, the other says none. That is something, I think, the regulators should investigate,” Angara said.
Angara also said there is a need for structural reforms in the water sector, noting that some 30 agencies of the government are involved in water and sanitation policy, among them are the National Water Resources Board, the Local Water Utilities Administration and the Metropolitan Water Sewerage System.
He said the current setup is inefficient with jurisdictions overlapping one another.
“I think we really need a high level of discussion whether our underlying philosophies are valid and whether these agencies are serving the people well,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay wants a full inventory of rainwater catch basins in 42,000 barangays across the country which should have been put up by the government under a law.
She noted that Republic Act No. 6716 or the Rainwater Collectors and Spring Development Law provides for the construction of 100,000 water wells, rainwater collections and rehabilitation of existing wells in all the barangays.
“El Nino is here and the water crisis is real, imminent and prevalent. Thirty years mula nang maisabatas ang RA 6716, gusto nating malaman kung ilan sa mahigit 42,000 barangay ang meron rainwater collection system (RWCS) na ginawa ng gobyerno,” Binay said in a separate statement.
She earlier said conflicting statements amid the water shortage in Metro Manila has increased confusion among the public, noting that there should a clear policy on maintaining water security.
“We should have a clear policy on maintaining water security whenever water supply goes bad. Where is NWRB’s (National Water Resources Board) holistic and comprehensive water resource plan and effective water allocation and reuse policies,” Binay earlier said.
Poe earlier pushed for the passage of a bill that seeks to establish a single agency that would be in charge of sustainable water management and sanitation.
She said she filed Senate Bill 1217 or the proposed Water Regulatory Act which aims to rationalize and streamline the functions of various state agencies in terms of water regulation.
“Dapat may iisang water regulatory board na ‘di lang sa tubig kundi pati sa sewerage system kasi ngayon wala pang ganyan,” Poe said.
She also urged local government units to establish catchment areas or water systems to help communities during dry season or droughts. /muf
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