Executive order on water crisis in the works

March 17, 2019
Rodrigo Duterte

AN executive order (EO) aimed at addressing the water supply issues  is already being finalized for submission to President Rodrigo Duterte for his input and approval, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.

The EO was discussed during the latest Cabinet Assistance System (CAS) meeting in Leyte last Friday.

“I believe the different agencies agree on the problems that need to be resolved to prevent the sort of water supply management issues now being experienced in Metro Manila,” Nograles said in a statement.

“At this point we have built a consensus on how we can address these issues, but the recommendations as outlined in the EO will still be subject to the approval of the President,” he added.

Nograles said the draft EO includes provisions covering the various components of the integrated water resource management (IWRM).

Among these provisions is the reconstitution of the National Water Resources Board into a body that will be responsible for policy, direction-setting, and the integration of all government efforts involving water.

This body may be placed under the Office of the President supervision, Nograles said. Currently, the NWRB is under the supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Given the scope and breadth of water-related concerns, the supervision of OP could help ensure that all 30-plus agencies involved in water resource management are on the same page,” Nograles added.

Aside from this, the body may also be mandated to craft a national water management master plan integrating all relevant and existing plans and road maps of the different agencies involved in the IWRM, Nograles said.

CAS representatives of the different agencies were focused on “finding solutions to the problem instead of dwelling on its roots,” he added.

“Alam nila na para matugunan ang problema ng ating mga kababayan, mas mainam na magtulungan imbes na magturuan,” Nograles said.

“I believe that this is the approach to take with any challenge facing our country,” he added.

Duterte earlier ordered the release of 150 days worth of water supply from Angat Dam in order to address the water shortage in several parts of Metro Manila.

But Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System administrator Reynaldo Velasco said there is “no such thing” as 150 days worth of water supply that Duterte wanted released.

Nevertheless, the MWSS said it will solve the water shortage in some parts of Metro Manila and Rizal in 150 days or around five months in compliance with Duterte’s marching order.