By Hannah Torregoza
Former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said he supports Malacañang’s position that the creation of a Department of Water is not a necessity, but believes it warrants further study.
Roxas, in a recent interview during a campaign sortie, said he doesn’t believe in creating a new department that would develop, manage and protect the country’s water resources as there are several government agencies are already tasked to do that.
“Well, mahalaga ang tubig. Isa ito sa pinaka-importanteng bagay lalo na sa pagsasaka, sa flood control at lalo na sa tubig inumin (water is a very important resource. It is very important especially in farming, flood control programs and more so, we need safe drinking water),” Roxas said.
“But whether it requires a department or just mabuting pamalakad sa mga kasalukuyang namamalakad ay dapat tingnan natin (demand better management from the present agencies handling our water system is something we should look into),” the former trade secretary added.
“Pero hindi ako automatic na gumawa tayo ng departamento dahil bubuo lang ng baong byurokrasya yan (But I am not in favor of automatically creating a department for it because this will just create another bureaucracy),” said Roxas, who is running under the “Otso Diretso” opposition coalition.
Roxas said he supports the Senate and House of Representatives’ probe into the current water shortage crisis that gripped residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
During the Senate hearing, senators were disappointed over the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) admission they lack a master plan or long-term solutions to fix the water shortage even as the Philippines remains vulnerable to the threat of El Niño.
Lawmakers have also demanded Manila Water, whose consumers were greatly affected by the water shortage, to compensate their clients.
“Ang importante, bakit ba pumalya ito? Bakit hindi natin nakita ito? So sinusuportahan ko yung gawain ng House of Representatives at Senado, para tingnan nila, para malaman saan ang gap? Saan hindi nagkaintindihan? (What is important is to know, where did they go wrong? So I support the move of the House and Senate to probe and check the gaps. What were the loopholes?” he pointed out.
Roxas said water agencies should already have been prepared with the possible ill effects of the El Niño phenomenon, noting that weather forecasters have been warning about it in the previous years. He also stressed the importance of adapting to climate change.
Aside from Angat Dam and La Mesa Dam, the former senator said the government agencies concerned should have explored or beefed up other existing possible water resources such as Laguna de Bay, Pantabangan Dam, and other potential reservoirs.
Should he win in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, Roxas vowed to join other senators in the water crisis probe and finding concrete solutions to water shortage.