Panelo: Manila Water shortage may be ‘artificial’

Pia Ranada

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Panelo: Manila Water shortage may be ‘artificial’
If reports are true that Angat Dam is not at a critically low level, inefficiency and mismanagement may be to blame for the water crisis in parts of Metro Manila, says Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo


MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Thursday, March 14, raised the possibility that the water shortage and supply interruptions in parts of Metro Manila may be “artificial.”

Panelo made the statement in a Palace news briefing in Thursday, citing information from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that Angat Dam, where Manila Water gets its supply, is not yet at a critical level.

Duterte’s spokesman said he had also read about how Maynilad, another concessionaire, is not facing the same problems as Manila Water, even if both get their supply from Angat Dam.

News reports on these findings, such as Rappler’s explainer, quotes hydrologists, climate experts, and Maynilad.

“I said it could be just inefficiency, mismanagement. In that case, it’s only an artificial shortage because if the source is full and another concessionaire is also full, why is the other one not having problems?” he said during the Palace briefing briefing.

Panelo said Lorenzana shared the information in the chat group of Cabinet members. President Rodrigo Duterte is not part of the chat group.

Panelo said the information struck him as depicting the Manila Water shortage as “hindi totoo” (not true).

“‘Yun nga sinasabi eh, parang ‘yun ang gist ng sinasabi ni Secretary Lorenzana dun sa kanyang chat na the water comes from Angat Dam and there is no shortage as far as that particular dam is concerned. Puno, walang kulang, so bakit nagkakakulangan ‘yung distribution?” he said.

(That’s what it says, the gist of what Secretary Lorenzana is saying in his chat is the water comes from Angat Dam and there is no shortage as far as that particular dam is concerned. It’s full, it’s not lacking, so why is the distribution failing?)

But Malacañang has yet to make any conclusion about the issue. Panelo said the water crisis is still being investigated, though he could not recall who Duterte supposedly assigned to lead the probe. 

When asked, Panelo gave assurances that if Manila Water is at fault for the water shortage, it would be held accountable. (READ: Malacañang eyes executive order to address water shortage)

“Of course, the one who is at fault, we will make sure they will be held accountable,” he said.

Panelo was also asked if he saw any connection between the supposedly “artificial” Manila Water shortage and calls by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for the implementation of the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project.

Panelo said he did not want to speculate. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.