Senior Deputy Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally attended a technical working group (TWG) hearing Tuesday, Dec. 6 to personally see through one of her pet measures.
Taken up during the TWG meeting between the Committee on Government Reorganization and Committee on Public Works and Highways was Arroyo's House Bill (HB) No.482, which proposes the creation of Department of Water, Irrigation, Sewage and Sanitation Resource Management.
HB No.482 is one of 39 bills batting for the institutionalization of a dedicated water agency that the TWG is tasked to consolidate.
In an effort to address the looming water supply backlog and worsening sanitation issues in the country, Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has proposed the creation of Department of Water, Irrigation, Sewage and Sanitation Resource Management.
In filing HB No.482, Arroyo said that the Philippine government's responsibility to safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water, sanitation, and irrigation service to the public is of utmost importance.
The Pampanga 2nd district congresswoman said this is attainable through well-coordinated, effective, efficient, and sustainable management of its water and sanitation resources.
Arroyo said that currently, management of water sources is lodged with different units or agencies of the government. This has resulted in poor coordination or even conflicts in the implementation of the national policies and plans on water, sewage, sanitation, and irrigation.
The present set-up for water, irrigation, sewage, and sanitation responsibilities of the government involves, among others, major government agencies like the National Water Resources Board, a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the Water Code of the Philippines which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and has regulatory powers over all local water districts (LWDs); and rural waterworks and sanitation associations nationwide.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a GOCC also attached to the DPWH, is responsible for the water supply and sanitation in Metro Manila and such contiguous areas as may be added to its area of jurisdiction; while the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), a government agency under the Office of the President (OP) is primarily responsible for irrigation development and management.
Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda sat as TWG chairman. He stated that the measure's adoption is crucial because the country is experiencing droughts and constant flooding, as well as concerns with water supply for irrigation and human consumption.