De Lima calls on government to explain water crisis

Published March 15, 2019, 12:28 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Hannah Torregoza

Amid the growing outrage over the government’s ill-preparedness to offer urgent solution to the water crisis, opposition Senator Leila de Lima has called on the government to explain what led to the apparent water crisis in Metro Manila and nearby areas.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

De Lima lamented that the current water shortage was adding burden to ordinary Filipino workers and their families.

“Kailangang tukuyin ang puno’t dulo ng kakulangan ng tubig. Hindi uubra na kung kailan wala nang magamit na tubig ang ating mga kababayan, saka pa lang kikilos at maghahanap ng panandaliang lunas ang gobyerno (The government should look into the true cause of the water shortage. It’s not right for the government to come up with short term solutions when our citizens already have no water to use),” De Lima said in her latest statement.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, said it was clearly the government’s duty to regulate the private water concessionaires in charge of the steady supply and distribution of clean and safe water.

“This water crisis is unnecessarily putting more pressure on Filipino workers and their families who are already hard pressed with rising prices due to TRAIN Law,” the detained senator stressed.

“ Our government has mastered how to plunge our country into crisis after crisis,” she added.

De Lima was referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law that President Rodrigo Duterte had pushed to fund his administration’s “Build, Build, Build” project.
Manila Water, which supplies water in several parts of Metro Manila and Rizal, has been implementing water service interruptions since March 7, which affected around 52,000 households as the water level at the La Mesa Dam continues to drop.

While claiming that the effects of El Niño aggravated it, Manila Water Chief Operating Officer Geodino Carpio reportedly said that rainfall could have filled up La Mesa Dam, which serves as their emergency source of water.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said it was planning to craft an executive order that would institute reforms in government agencies dealing with the resource.

But de Lima said the government should have had the foresight to address the growing demand of the population for a steady supply of water.

“Tragically, we expected too much from this administration which has shown its inability to govern the nation,” De Lima pointed out.

The senator, likewise, urged concerned government agencies to get their acts together not only in making water concessionaries accountable but also in providing long-term solution to secure a steady supply and distribution of water.

“In the wake of crisis after crisis that we have been plunged into, such as now this water crisis, it is tempting as it is popular to jump into a paroxysm of investigation. But we need to act fast and decisively to resolve this crisis,” she said.

“It should, however, be clear that the government should exercise its oversight function over these private water concessionaires than blame them except itself as a convenient excuse for its own failure of governance and management,” she added.

The lawmaker also said she believed that the government should look not only for short-term and immediate solution to the water crisis of supply and distribution but also, and more importantly, for alternative and long-term sources of clean and safe water.