Duterte can take over public utilities
MANILA, Philippines — Congress can give President Rodrigo Duterte the power to take over the operation of public utilities amid the water shortage in Metro Manila, but he would have to declare an emergency first, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Tuesday.
Malacañang earlier said the President may take “drastic action” after rotational water interruptions were implemented anew this month in the metro, triggering fears that households would again experience dry taps due to the low water level in La Mesa Dam.
Lacson said the Constitution as well as prevailing jurisprudence allowed Congress to delegate to the Chief Executive the power of the state to take over the operation of public utilities.
“However, the President has to declare an emergency, and if Congress delegates that power to him, the government must be ready to compensate whatever losses the private concessionaire/s would incur during the period of the government takeover,” the senator said.
But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the problem was not so much the distribution of water but the lack of supply, which was not the sole responsibility of the water concessionaires.
“The problem is in the source,” Gatchalian told reporters, adding that to ensure a steady source of water, the government could either fast-track the completion of the Kaliwa Dam, which had been in the pipeline for the past four to five years. (See related story on Page A6.)
The government could also tap new technology, such as desalination or the process of removing mineral components from saline water, Gatchalian said.
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