Duterte orders Manila Water, Maynilad to 'release water' from Angat Dam

MANILA, Philippines – In an apparent bid to resolve the Metro Manila and Rizal water shortage, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Manila Water and Maynilad to release water from the Angat Dam by noontime, Friday, March 15.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo announced the Chief Executive's directive around noontime on Friday through a statement sent to media. 

"The President is directing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to demand from the Manila Water Company, Inc, Maynilad Water Services, Inc, and other responsible offices to release water from Angat Dam by noon time today, March 15, good for 150 days, in order to supply the affected areas in Metro Manila and deliver, as well as distribute sufficient water to the residents thereof," said Panelo.

Duterte said he would personally hold MWSS, Manila Water, and Maynilad liable for failure to comply with his order. 

However, Manila Water and Maynilad have been releasing what water can be released to affected residents of Metro Manila and Rizal residents. The problem, Manila Water claims, is there is not enough water supply in Angat Dam to meet the demands of the households and establishments they service.

The MWSS had also said delays in infrastructure projects for water distribution contributed to the water shortage and supply interruptions some Metro Manila residents suffered from. 

It's not clear if Duterte is aware of the situation or if he does not believe that Angat Dam's water level is low. The other day, Panelo had raised the possibility that the water shortage is "artificial," after receiving information that while Angat Dam currently is currently at a low level, it has not yet reached the critical point.

Manila Water is trying to tap into the La Mesa Dam supply, also low at this time of the year, by using floating water pumps, its communication manager Dittie Galang earlier said.

In addition, Maynilad, the other water concessionaire, said it would share its supply with Manila Water in order to alleviate the shortage. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.