By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday confirmed that the Senate committee on public services would start a Senate inquiry on the water crisis gripping some parts of the country and several farming communities in the provinces.
Poe, chair of the Senate public services panel, said the hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, March 19 at the Senate session hall at 10 a.m.
“We will call for the hearing as part of the committee’s oversight functions over the country’s utilities,” Poe said in a statement.
“What we are seeing now is not normal and something that our households and farmers do not deserve,” the senator said.
Poe said the committee will invite all concerned government agencies, heads of water concessionaires, regulators and other concerned stakeholders to discuss the crisis and come up with solutions to ease the impact of the supply shortage.
The lawmaker stressed it is important for the officials to attend the hearing, “so that together, we can come up with immediate short-and long-term solutions to avert the current water crisis.”
Poe said there is also a need to hear the current mitigating measures to be implemented by government agencies especially for the agricultural sector.
“We also need to hear the current mitigating measures planned by the agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, given the importance of our agricultural sector to the economy,” Poe added.
Poe earlier expressed alarm over the water crisis facing the country as the summer season begins and with the onslaught of El Nino.
According to Poe, the government should be more proactive in addressing the problem by adopting a radical approach in tackling existing problems or shortcomings in the water supply system.
She also reiterated the need to rationalize the economic as well as administrative regulation of water utilities through an independent, quasi-judicial body.
Earlier in the day, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would ask the appropriate committees to immediately start an investigation into the water shortage problem.
Sotto said the conflicting statements of government agencies and water concessionaires on the perceived water shortage are confusing the water consumers and the public.