Senate opens probe on Metro Manila water shortage
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Tuesday opened its own investigation on the water shortage affecting thousands of people in parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.
The hearing of the Senate committee on public services, headed by Senator Grace Poe, was upon the prodding of some senators, primarily Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Officials from Manila Water Co., namely, chief operating officer Geodino Carpio, president Ferdinand Dela Cruz, and communications head Jeric Sevilla Jr., were among those invited in the hearing.
Poe earlier said Manila Water, which provides water service in the east zone of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, had a lot of explaining to do.
Manila Water customers have been experiencing water service interruptions since March 8, with the concessionaire citing the low water level in La Mesa Dam as the reason.
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Among the resource persons also invited are Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Bureau of Fire Director Leonard Bañago.
Mayors of Metro Manila Cities were also invited to the hearing.
Representatives from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., the west counterpart of Manila Water, and private stakeholders were also invited at the hearing.
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima also filed Senate Resolution No. 1029, seeking a probe by the appropriate Senate committees to investigate the water shortage caused by the decrease of La Mesa Dam’s reserves.
She also called for accountability among concerned government agencies and private water concessionaires for their failure to provide uninterrupted and affordable access to potable water in Metro Manila.
“The concerned government agencies and private concessionaires charged with the responsibility to provide access to clean, safe, and potable water should be held accountable for not only the shortage but even more so the lack of providing ample warning for a crisis that could have easily been mitigated or avoided,” De Lima said in a statement.
She said the congressional inquiries should also determine the liabilities of the MWSS and Manila Water to notify affected residents and provide pre-emptive measures.
On Monday, the House of Representatives conducted its own hearing on the issue. /cbb
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