MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he remains hopeful of the passage of a bill creating the Department of Water Resources (DWR).
He made this statement just four days after he announced that he has signed an executive order (EO) creating the Water Resource Management Office (WRMO) pending the passage of the DWR bill.
The creation of the DWR was among the priority bills pushed by the President during his first State of the Nation Address in July last year.
“There are many agencies that are concerned when it comes to water management. So, we have to make it more cohesive. That’s why nagtayo tayo ng (we established an) Office of Water Management, which presently will be attached to the Office of the President and with DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” he said in a media interview on the sidelines of the Pag-IBIG Fund Chairman’s Report in Pasay City.
“But we are hoping down the road, mayroon nang mga (there will be) bills that have been filed in the legislature, in both houses, na itinatayo ang (to establish the) Department of Water Management, and that’s precisely what we are trying to face.”
Amid lawmakers’ call for the government to have a comprehensive plan to address an impending water crisis, Marcos expressed hope that this plan would be mapped out by the newly-created WRMO.
He also underscored the need to build more water-related infrastructure.
Marcos expressed optimism about learning from examples of water management around the world, which the country could emulate.
“It’s just really a question of managing our water. We have always – we kept postponing this problem over the many, many years at every level. So, it’s time to put it together, to put in a cohesive plan na masusundan ng lahat ng LGU (local government units), masusundan ng lahat ng mga (that can be followed by LGUs and other) agencies of government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President noted that the water management problem in the country “goes beyond just agriculture.”
“Of course, agriculture is an extremely important part of it but we are talking about irrigation – water for irrigation, water for power production, our management of surface water sa (in) flood control and for irrigation as well,” he said. “All of these things we have already put up together – we have already (put) together (an) overall plan. Now, we have to implement it.”
CCC backs DWR creation
Climate Change Commissioner Albert dela Cruz Sr. has expressed support for the proposal to create a DWR and Water Regulatory Commission that would focus on the management of the country’s water resources.
“For an archipelagic country with abundant water resources, we need a sole government body, which is focused on water resource management and will also strengthen the implementation of water-related laws to improve coordination among regulatory bodies,” dela Cruz said a news release on Tuesday.
Based on a report from the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), more than 11 Filipino families lack access to clean water.
This accounts for about 41.6 percent of the 26.4 million households in the country.
“It’s a worrisome reality, especially when we consider that we are at the onset of the El Niño again this dry season. Half of the total number of Filipino families does not have access to clean water due to lack of supply and sanitation,” he said.
Dela Cruz is in Taiwan to attend the 2023 Smart City and Expo at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Hall 2 in Taipei City from March 28 to 31. The event will be attended by key officials of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency, as well as representatives of the city governments of Taipei and Taichung City.
He said water service providers should submit a water safety plan and conduct regular water quality assessments at least every three months aside from acquiring the necessary permits and certifications, such as the certificate on the potability of drinking water.
He said the CCC is already formulating policies and programs that would ensure the security of the water supply.
“We are taking an active role in ensuring that every Filipino has safe and potable water and we are doing this by educating the public the importance of having a comprehensive management program on water safety planning,” he said.
Included in the CCC’s public education program are policies on the conservation, preservation, and protection of the environment, which relates to the country’s water resources.
Among the mentioned policies are regulation in the use of deep wells and even the transition of sanitary landfills to waste-to-energy technologies because dumping garbage on unused lands results in pollution that seeps into our water systems. (PNA)