Poe: Senate panel can prepare prelim report on water shortage after 1 hearing
MANILA, Philippines – Even after only one hearing, the Senate public services committee can already prepare a preliminary report on its findings and recommendations on the water shortage affecting Metro Manila and parts of Rizal, Senator Grace Poe said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Senate panel, chaired by Poe, began its inquiry on the water shortage in the metropolis and nearby areas.
“Sa tingin ko, [ukol] dito sa Metro Manila…puwede na kaming gumawa ng preliminary report,” said Poe in a radio interview.
She said that their findings during the hearing were enough for the committee to recommend a revamp at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
She said the committee would also recommend that the east zone concessionaire Manila Water Co., which has been implementing water supply cuts, to compensate their consumers affected by the water service interruptions.
“Itinulak natin na doon sa mga oras na walang tubig, ‘wag nang mangolekta ng babayaran namin, o magbigay ng danyos at kung mayroong rebate sa ating mga customers doon sa perwisyo na nagawa nila,” the senator said.
Poe said it was evident that the MWSS lacked foresight in dismissing the concessionaires’ earlier warnings of an impending water shortage.
She said the water industry regulator should have been at the forefront of identifying measures to avert a crisis.
“Unang-una, alam naman ng MWSS na magkukulang ang tubig, last year pa. Pero imbes na sila ay gumawa ng hakbang o pinilit ang Manila Water na gumawa ng solusyon agad-agad, ang una nilang ginawa ay i-deny nila na mayroong water shortage,” she said.
“Ang MWSS ay siyang dapat nagsasabi, nakikita na kung mayroong pagkukulang ang mga concessionaires na ‘yan o mga korporasyon na ‘yan. Maaga pa lang, dapat sila na ang nagsasabing ayusin ninyo ‘yan, pero tila hindi nila nakita, o ayaw nilang makita,” she added.
Poe said the panel’s report would also tackle the composition of the MWSS Board of Trustees, pointing out that the agency requires civil engineers, finance and recognized labor leaders.
“‘Yan ay teknikal, ang kailangan natin diyan ay inhinyero. Civil engineers ang nakalagay sa regulasyon nila,” she said.
The committee would also conduct hearings in the provinces to assess the damage and determine the extent of the water shortage as some areas have started to feel the effects of the dry season, Poe said.
Likewise, the committee would also scrutinize the loan agreement with China for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province, amid concerns that a provision of the deal could allow Beijing to take full control of Manila’s patrimonial resources in case of a default.
Poe said she would wait for the MWSS administrators to submit the copy of the deal to the Senate panel.
“Titingnan din natin ‘yan para maisama natin sa committee report nang sa gano’n ay maging public record at puwedeng busisiin ng lahat,” the senator said.
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