Marcos issuing EO to address ‘water crisis’
PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said on Thursday that he will issue an executive order (EO) creating an interim agency that will manage what he described as the “water crisis” until Congress passes a law establishing the Department of Water Management.
The text of the EO nor its number has not been released. The agency created by the EO, the Water Resource Management Office (WRMO), will ensure the implementation of “more cohesive policy” to address the water crisis.
In February, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the WRMO’s first action will be to reduce reliance on groundwater and deep wells, and manage the supply of surface water.
“The WRMO would be under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and will be a transitory body pending the creation of a Water Resources department,” the Palace said.
The new office will have the authority to make binding recommendations to state-owned corporations providing water services such as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration, and the DENR’s water resources board, the Palace said.
The PCO said the new office’s main functions also include formulating and ensuring the implementation of the Integrated Water Management Plan, which will integrate the plans of various agencies.
In his speech on Thursday at a water industry convention, Mr. Marcos described the Philippines as being in a “water crisis,” noting that “every single urban community and even some rural communities” experience water shortages.
“I call it a water crisis because it is,” he said in a speech. “It is something that we have continually postponed. We do not examine it.”
“We all know the Philippines is not a dry place, and why do we not have enough water?”
The President called for innovation in addressing the water crisis, citing the experience of Israel, a desert country that has revolutionized water recycling.
He said the water treated for reuse in Israel is also used for irrigation and other purposes.
“They use water three times. Every bit of fresh water is used more than once,” Mr. Marcos said. “This is the kind of thinking that we have to apply to the Philippines because of the crisis that we are facing and how debilitating it will be to the entire economy, to the entire society if our water supply problem continues to become more dependent on what we have been doing in the past,” he said.
“The creation of a water management office is most welcome while the bills in congress are being threshed out,” Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares said in a statement. “This is a timely intervention from the Executive which will hopefully alleviate the creeping water crisis.”
She said the EO lays down the groundwork for a “more integrated and holistic” approach to the water problem.
About 11 million Filipino families still have no access to clean water, the National Water Resources Board said earlier this week. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza