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Department of Water measure pushed amid water supply woes

/ 01:36 PM March 20, 2019
 Aquino files Department of Water bill: Water 'important enough' to have own agency

Senator Bam Aquino explains the benefits of creating a Department of Water during Wednesday’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay in Malate. Photo by Christia Marie Ramos/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – The water supply crisis that has been gripping parts of Metro Manila and Rizal has prompted Senator Bam Aquino to file a measure seeking the establishment of a Department of Water.

In a copy of Senate Bill No. 2216 obtained by INQUIRER.net, the measure seeks to rationalize the water, irrigation, sewage, and sanitation resource management, including water rights, through the creation of the Department of  Water, Irrigation, Sewage, and Sanitation Resource Management.”

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“We filed a Department of Water bill, na suportado po ng iba’t-ibang agencies, dahil nakita ho namin na itong problemang ito, para kasing either natutulog po yung mga government agencies o hindi ho malinaw kung sino po sa kanila ang dapat nagmomonitor ng sitwasyon,” Aquino said in a media forum in Malate, Manila.

(The Water Department bill is supported by various agencies, because we all saw the water supply problem; It’s either concerned government agencies are sleeping on the job or no one really knows who should monitor the situation.)

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He noted the problem of placing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Regulatory Office under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Yung DPWH po, usually naka-focus po yan sa mga roads mga tulay, mga daan,” he said.

(DPWH is usually focused on roads and bridges.)

“Itong tubig ho is important enough na gawan po siya ng sariling niyang portfolio,” he added.

(Water is important enough to have its own portfolio.)

The proposed bill seeks to address “the immediate need” to establish the said agency, “which shall strengthen and coordinate water resource planning and policy-making to ensure sustainable and fair allocation and efficient use of water resources between competing water uses and users.”

Aquino also noted that the National Water Resources Board under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Local Water Utilities Administration, which is under the DPWH, the National Irrigation Administration, and the MWSS are currently responsible for the water, irrigation, sewage, sanitation responsibilities of the government.

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“Maraming pa pong infrastraktura ang kailangang gawin and yung mga ahensya po natin hindi rin nagkakasundo. Kasi yung iba gusto ng tubig sa residential, yung iba gusto ng tubig sa magsasaka, kailangan ho talaga ng mas maayos koordinasyon,” the senator said.

(A lot of infrastructure is needed, and agencies cannot seem to get along. Others are for water supply in residential areas, others are working on irrigation and farming, there has to be better coordination.)

Earlier, the Senate Committee on Public Services conducted an investigation on the water shortage affecting thousands of residents of Metro Manila and Rizal. /gsg

READ: Senate opens probe on Metro Manila water shortage 

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TAGS: Bam Aquino, Department of Water, Metro Manila, Rizal, Senate Bill No. 2216, water crisis
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