Marcos orders action on 40-M Pinoys with no water access

President Marcos directed government agencies to focus on providing water access to the 40 million underserved population found to have no access to formal water supply.

BBM water sector.jpg
President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. presides over a sectoral meeting on May 7, 2024 at the Malacañan Palace. (Photo courtesy of PPA/Marianne Bermudez)

Marcos made the directive to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other concerned agencies, stressing that the situation is "unacceptable."

"The directive of the President this morning was very clear: 40 million of our residents, of Filipinos, do not have access to a formal water supply. They still access water from springs, from creeks, some even rainwater, they rely on rainwater for drinking purposes," DENR Undersecretary Carlos Primo David said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday, May 7.

"And while we have big projects in line for large cities such as Bacolod, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Tarlac City and so on, we have to focus on the 40 million underserved population," David added.

According to David, the President stressed during the sectoral meeting on Tuesday that "it is not acceptable that we have 40 million of our countrymen that do not have access to formal water supply."

The Environment official disclosed that most of the underserved communities are in Mindanao and in the island communities.

"By far most of them are in Mindanao. A lot of the communities in BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) still do not have access to formal water supply," David said.

He also explained that of the more than 7,600 islands in the country, 5,500 of those are small islands which do not have formal water supply.

"[Many of these small islands do have communities, mostly fisherfolks and each and everyone of those do not have access to water. The islands that I refer to have an area on average around one square kilometer. So they're really tiny islands and this is what the President wants us to focus on," he said.

David, however, said that while many of these underserved communities are in the islands, there are also underserved families in upland areas.

The DENR undersecretary also disclosed that they have "few strategies that we have in mind in order for us to provide water for these communities," including desalination.

Marcos also directed the relevant agencies to further explore foreign funding for identified priority investment areas for both local and international stakeholders. David said the President also ordered them to study  the possibility of issuing bonds and ask help from development partners on how to go about the water problem.

He told the agencies to also focus on the development of National Irrigation Administration dams for multipurpose use to include agricultural irrigation, fresh water supply, power supply, and flood control.