MALACAÑANG ON Monday thumbed down the suggestion of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia that there should be a Department of Water “that would centralize all activities having to do with water resource.”
Hindi kailangan iyon (That is not needed),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said at a news conference at the Palace on Monday.
Eh ‘yung problema nga na ‘yun nagawan na nila ng paraan (They were able to find a solution to the problem). They created their own problem; they created their own solution. It’s purely inefficiency, mismanagement,” he added, referring to the Manila Water Company, Inc.
Mr. Panelo said further the draft Executive Order (EO) to address the water shortage in Metro Manila will be ready “any time this week or the week after.”
In a social media post on March 14, Mr. Pernia said: “It’s a real shame [that] we have a Dept. of Energy, which is important, but we utterly lack an Apex body — a Dept. of Water — to ensure water supply and distribution — an indispensable VITAL need. ‘Water is life.’ As the age-old saying goes, Ok lang kung walang ilaw, basta lang may tubig!’ (It is okay if we do not have lights, as long as we have water).”
The proposed EO, according to Mr. Panelo, was “still being processed and finalized.”
“I have a personal suggestion: I think we should really put reservoir in all cities of this country, as well as in provinces. It’s very easy to build reservoir. I cannot even understand why we’re not doing that,” he added.
Last Sunday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said a draft EO may place the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), which will be tasked to integrate all government efforts pertaining to water, under the Office of the President (OP).
“Among the provisions of the proposed EO is the reconstitution of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) into a body that will be responsible for policy, direction-setting, and the integration of all government efforts pertaining to water,” he said in a statement.
The body, according to Mr. Nograles, “may be placed under the supervision of the Office of the President.”
The NWRB is currently under the supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) by virtue of EO No. 123 s. 2002.
“Given the scope and breadth of water-related concerns, the supervision of OP could help ensure that all 30-plus agencies involved in water resource management are on the same page,” Mr. Nograles explained.
One of the responsibilities of the NWRB, he also said, “would be the crafting of a national water management master plan.” — Arjay L. Balinbin