President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the draft of an Executive Order (EO) that will hopefully address water supply issues in the country, a Cabinet official said on Monday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the EO, which will provide a master plan for water security, was approved “in principle” during the last Cabinet meeting.
“The draft has been given to the Office of the Executive Secretary already for vetting. So finalization na lang ‘yun ng draft, pipirmahan na lang ‘yun ng Pangulo,” Nograles said.
The EO mandates the reconstitution of the National Water Resources Board into a body that will manage the integration and coordination of government efforts in planning and implementing programs involving water.
The body is mandated to create a master plan on national water management composed of relevant and existing plans of agencies involved in the integrated water resource management (IWRM).
The EO will also seek a review of government agreements with water concessionaires.
The drafting of the EO came after a water shortage hit thousands of households being serviced by the Manila Water Company in eastern Metro Manila and Rizal province in March.
Nograles earlier said that before water interruptions gripped parts of Metro Manila, the government had already been working on the order to resolve water-related issues.
He said the inter-agency efforts were prompted by water management issues that were flagged in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP).
The issues include limited implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in many of the country’s river basins and watersheds, which results in the resources’ sub-optimal use and wastage; uncoordinated plans and programs and access to safe water supplies due to the uneven distribution of freshwater sources.
Nograles also mentioned the lack of updated and consolidated data on water resource availability, water stress levels, over/underutilization of resources, groundwater pollution, land subsidence and saltwater intrusion.
At least 32 agencies are involved in the water sector, with different offices involved in the various aspects of IWRM. – Robie de Guzman