THE Senate may review water concession agreements with utilities deemed onerous in the exercise of its oversight function, a senator said on Wednesday.

“That’s part of their oversight,” Senator Francis N. Tolentino said at a forum in Manila, noting that it was Congress that gave the franchises.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday slammed water concessionaires over contract provisions he found questionable, such as categorizing water as a commodity rather than a natural resource.

The Senate public service committee will start hearing several bills seeking to set up a Department of Water, a priority measure of the Duterte administration Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who heads the committee, will lead the hearing that will tackle eight Senate bills that seek to address the ongoing water shortage in Metro Manila.

Mr. Tolentino, who authored one of the bills, said he hoped the measure could hurdle the chamber by the first quarter of next year.

A dedicated Water department was among the bills that President Duterte mentioned in his fourth state of the nation address, aside from proposals to create separate agencies on disaster resilience and the overseas Filipino workers. — Charmaine A. Tadalan