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Angara calls for crafting of water resource master plan

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Senator Sonny Angara wants to amend the 43-year-old Water Code of the Philippines to make it “more responsive” to the needs of the country.

Angara made the call on Friday in the wake of the water supply shortage in most parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.

“Dati-rati wala namang climate change, noon wala namang El Niño (Back in the days, there was no climate change, no El Niño). But this is the new normal now. Akma pa rin kaya ang batas para sa mga ganitong pagbabago (Is the law still appropriate to address these new circumstances?),” Angara said.

The Water Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree 1067 governs the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources.

Angara said the amendment to the country’s water code should include the audit of all government agencies and institutions dealing with water resource and its management whose functions seem to be “teeming with duplication.”

Angara noted that over 30 agencies are managing and overseeing the country’s water resources based on a 2018 study by Arangkada Philippines.

“This is a very complicated environment, and rather than come out with a timely response to water problems, it may be impeding our government agencies,” Angara said.

Angara also cited the need to craft an integrated water resource master plan to ensure water security and management.

“With the dry spell getting severe each year, climate change and increasing population, it is imperative that we secure all available and accessible water resources,” he said.

The Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe is set to release a preliminary report containing recommendations on the water crisis plaguing Metro Manila and parts of Rizal after it conducted a five-hour long hearing on Wednesday.

Poe said her committee would recommend the revamp at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and press water concessionaire Manila Water to compensate consumers affected by massive water interruptions.

The panel’s report would also touch on who should compose the MWSS as the industry requires expertise of civil engineers, finance and recognized labor leaders as stated in the MWSS Charter.

Currently, the MWSS board comprises two retired military and police officials, a chemical engineer, and six lawyers.

Poe’s committee will also scrutinize the loan agreement with China for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam in Quezon province, amid charges that a provision of the deal could effectively allow Beijing to take full control of Manila’s patrimonial resources in case of a default. (PNA)

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