Proposed Department of Water nixed

March 18, 2019
Ernesto Pernia

MALACANANG yesterday thumbed down the suggestion of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia to create a Department of Water that will oversee all government agencies and private companies dealing with the resource.

“Hindi kailangan ‘yan,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a news conference when asked about the proposal.

Panelo said the water shortage that hit parts of Metro Manila and Rizal is already being addressed, citing improvements in the distribution of water over the weekend.

“Iyong lang problema lang na iyon, nagawan kaagad nila ng paraan eh. Simpleng-simple lang ang problema. They created their own problem, and they provide the solution. It’s purely inefficiency, mismanagement (on the part of the Manila Water Company, Inc.),” Panelo said.

Pernia took to social media last week to suggest the creation of a new department.

“It’s a real shame we have a Dept. of Energy, which is important, but we utterly lack an apex body—a Dept of Water—to ensure water supply and distribution—an indispensable vital need. ‘Water is life.’ As the age-old saying goes, ‘ok lang kung walang ilaw, basta lang may tubig!’” Pernia said on Twitter on March 14.

Manila Water, the east zone concessionaire, has been implementing water interruptions in several areas in Metro Manila and Rizal to ensure that water supply can last until June or the rainy season. Due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, lesser rainfall is expected in the coming months.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), meanwhile, attributed the Manila Water’s shortfall of 150 million liters per day from its allocation of 1,600 MLD from Angat Dam to an increase in population and demand from consumers.

Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered regulator MWSS to release 150 days worth of water supply from Angat Dam in Bulacan.

However, MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco said that there was no such supply and that the President needed to be so informed.

“We wish to assure the President that MWSS is doing its best to solve the water shortage problem,” Velasco said in a statement.