By Jel Santos
Because of the recent water crisis experienced by the metropolis, San Juan City will only use 16 trucks of water during this year’s celebration of “Wattah, Wattah” Festival.
Last year, over 50 fire trucks were used by the local government during the festivity.
Councilor Vincent Pacheco, chairman of the festival, said that Manila Water will provide potable water for seven consecutive days to the nine barangays in San Juan City whose water supply is being interrupted every 5 p.m.
“In 2018, we used more than 50 fire trucks from nearby cities and provinces. This year, we only limited the number to 16 only because of the recent water crisis,” he said during a press briefing in San Juan City Monday.
“What’s happening to us now is a wakeup call. This is why we are teaching people how to conserve water,” he added.
Outgoing Mayor Guia Gomez said this year’s celebration will focus on water conservation following the water crisis recently experienced in Metro Manila.
Prior to the start of the week-long celebration, the local government conducted an online water conservation campaign to further educate the people of San Juan City about the salience of water in their lives.
The mayor said that the religious tradition of “basaan (dousing of water)” must continue as it is part of San Juan’s culture and tourism.
“San Juan City is named after St. John the Baptist, our patron saint. He was the one who baptized our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This celebration is being held to simulate the act of baptism,” she said.
“This year, we want to highlight environmental awareness and not only the religious aspect,” Gomez added.
Forced basaan not allowed, mayor cites ordinance
Gomez, meanwhile, reminded those who will take part in the celebration that a city ordinance passed in 2007 prohibits them to use dirty water; ice or water placed inside a plastic bag/water bomb’; bottled water; or water placed inside any material that can inflict pain; to threaten and hurt people; to enter public utility vehicles and douse water at people inside it; and to forcibly open private vehicles.
First-time offenders will be slapped with P2, 500 fine and one day of community service; second-time offenders will pay P3, 500 and three days of community service; and the third offense will correspond a P5, 000 fine and might be jailed for at least six days.
Minors who would violate the ordinance will be dealt with by the City Social Welfare Development Office, based on the City Ordinance No. 4 Series of 2015 or the Code of Parental Responsibility.
A liquor ban will also be implemented on June 24, from 12:01 a.m. to 3 p.m., the local government said.
The traditional “basaan” or dousing of water will be held at the Pinaglabanan Shrine. Gomez said that they had to hold it at the shrine because they needed a bigger space as they expect a larger crowd this year. Before it was being held at the “Tanghalan ng Masa.”
The local government said they are expecting a lot of local and international tourists this year.
Colonel Ariel Fulo, San Juan police chief, they are in full force during the celebration of “Wattah, Wattah” Festival, saying 50 cops from Eastern Police District will augment their force.