Malacañang eyes executive order to address water shortage

Sofia Tomacruz
Malacañang eyes executive order to address water shortage
(UPDATED) The executive order would establish reforms in agencies that deal with water, says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, as he assesses the water shortage also hitting hospitals

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As parts of Metro Manila and Rizal continue to grapple with a water shortage, Malacañang is eyeing to craft an executive order (EO) that would institute reforms in government agencies dealing with the resource.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday, March 13, made the statement as he laid out efforts to address water woes, which have also affected several government hospitals.

Duque said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles informed him about the proposed measure.

“The water sector management will be more defined because now there are many agencies all over – MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System), LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration), DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) – so we will have to organize it in such a way that the water sector’s concerns and challenges are more strategic,” Duque said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Duque said this would mean that when it comes to managing water, the EO will define key agencies, determine accountability, and lay out outcomes expected for all involved.

“Magiging mas organized na, kasi ang nangyayari, [ang] dami-daming agencies. Minsan nakakalito na, ‘di mo alam kung saan ‘yung accountability,” he added.

(It will be more organized because as it is now, there are so many agencies. It can get confusing sometimes, since you don’t know who’s accountable.)

Parts of Metro Manila and Rizal have been experiencing low water pressure to no supply at all since last Thursday, March 7, interrupting the daily routines of thousands. Consumers have criticized the Ayala-led Manila Water, with many saying they were not given time to prepare.

In a text message to Rappler, Nograles said the economic cluster, led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, already vetted the proposed EO.

This will be followed by vetting from the Cabinet Assistance System, led by Nograles, on Friday, March 15.

“[It] is a joint effort by the economic cluster of the government. After we vet it on Friday, we will immediately present to the President,” Nograles said. (READ: [ANALYSIS] The economics of Metro Manila’s burgeoning water crisis)

Manila Water has said that affected residents will have to wait for heavy rain to fill up the La Mesa Dam before the situation lets up. (READ: EXPLAINER: What caused Manila Water’s service problems?)

In the meantime, the company said it will continue to deploy water tankers and find ways to divert water toward problematic areas while it seeks long-term solutions. (READ: Manila Water on the hunt for new water sources)

Maynilad Water Services also said it will share some of its supply with Manila Water. – with a report from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.