Creation of Department of Water urged amid water woes in Metro Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2019   •   951

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Tuesday pushed anew for the creation of a department that will solely address the country’s water woes amid a supply crisis being experienced in Metro Manila and nearby towns.

During an oversight hearing in the House of Representatives, several lawmakers raised their concerns over the persistent water troubles, which began in March this year and continued through the peak of the dry season.

Solons believe it is high time for the country to have a Department of Water to correctly manage its abundant supply of fresh water and resolve the water crisis.

“Importante talaga na magkaroon tayo ng isang sistema ng pamamalakad ng tubig dito… Ito ay long overdue na na kailangan ng Pilipinas dahil nakikita natin ang mismanagement ng tubig,” said Bulacan Representative Jonathan Sy-Alvarado.

He cited the amount of water being released from dams when rains brought by a tropical cyclone fill up dams to spilling level when it could have been stored in a different reservoir, which may be accessed by water concessionaires during the dry season.

The conduct of the hearing comes amid rapidly declining water level in Angat dam that left the metropolis parched despite the onset of the rainy season.

Attending the inquiry were representatives from concessionaires, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

During the hearing, the LWUA also suggested asking for the help of local water districts in distributing supply to areas affected by the water shortage.

“We can ask them (water districts) to help share their water resources although the problem maybe is how to transport the water,” said Jeci Lapus, LWUA acting administrator.

Concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, both agreed with Lapus’ proposal.

“We support the plan to give us more water,” said Ferdinand de la Cruz, president of Manila Water.

“Sa Maynilad po we also welcome the offer of administrator Jeci Lapus,” said Ramoncito Fernandez, who heads Maynilad.

The water level at Angat Dam has continued to dip, hitting 158.77 meters as of 6 a.m. Tuesday (June 25).

The dropping water elevation at Angat Dam has prompted water concessionaires to implement rotational service interruptions.

Aside from the creation of the Department of Water, suggestions on storing rainwater and recycling of wastewater used in water-intensive facilities were also discussed during the House inquiry.

Malacañang, for its part, said it is open to any proposal seeking to address the country’s water troubles.

“Pinag-aaralan lahat ng pwedeng gawin to solve water problem,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a Palace press briefing.

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc reiterated its earlier demand to hold the water concessionaires accountable for the water shortage being felt in Metro Manila.

It also renewed its call for the government to take over these water utilities to ensure water security, transparency, and accountability. (with details from Grace Casin)

Panelo to recommend review of UP-Ayala Technohub contract to Pres. Duterte

Maris Federez   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to also review the contract of the University of the Philippines-Diliman with the Ayala Land Incorporated for the conversion of a UP lot into UP-Ayala Land Technohub.

Panelo said that a study has come to his attention showing the very low lease amount that the Ayala group is paying to UP.

A number of business outsourcing firms, retail areas, campus apartments, and business hotels has occupied the Technohub that is now a popular hangout place in Quezon City.

The Palace official said he will recommend to the president a closer review of the lease contract to check the veracity of the report that the Ayala Land group is only paying UP just a little higher than Php20.00 per square meter for 25 years.

“Only 10.4 billion will be taken by the government at the end of 25 years […] mukhang kawawa na naman ang gobyerno dito,” said Panelo.

He added that should the claim in the report be true, it will cause so much loss for the government.

“Definitely lugi ang gobyerno dito,” he said.

The Ayala group, on the other hand, has denied the allegation of the very low rental fee.

It, however, welcomes whatever review that will be conducted on its lease contract with UP.

Aside from the Technohub, the President has also slammed Manila Water, the water concessionaire company under the Ayala Corporation due to its alleged onerous contract with the government. — (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Duterte threatens to arrest water tycoons Ayala, Pangilinan

Marje Pelayo   •   December 31, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to put in jail owners of water concessionaires for alleged “issue of corruption.”

Business tycoons Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala owns Manila Water Co. as its subsidiary while Manuel Pangilinan owns majority of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Duterte said he will have the two moguls arrested for “non-bailable” offenses of syndicated estafa or plunder following the two concessionaires’ alleged ‘onerous contracts’ with the government’s Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

“Si Ayala pati si Pangilinan, kapag nagkamali iyang mga gagong iyan, ipakukulong ko talaga sila,” Duterte said.

“Kita mo kahit anong insulto ko, hindi sumasagot. Sigurado swak sila sa syndicated estafa,” he added.

READ: Duterte threatens to file economic sabotage raps over ‘onerous’ water contracts

President Duterte during the height of the controversy earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two concessionaires for the alleged onerous concession deals. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Angat dam water level goes up but still below target – NWRB

Robie de Guzman   •   December 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The water level at the Angat dam continues to go up, according to the monitoring of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday (December 17), the Angat dam’s water level is at 197.22 meters, which is higher than the 196.67 meters recorded on Monday.

PAGASA said this is due to the rainfall brought about by the recent Typhoon Tisoy (international name: Kammuri) and the effects of the northeast monsoon (Amihan).

The state weather bureau said water levels at the Angat dam usually improve at this time of the year based on historical data.

Despite this, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) advised the public to still conserve and use water wisely.

NWRB executive director Servillo David Jr. said this is because the target normal operating level of 212 meters for Angat Dam has yet to be reached.

Angat Dam supplies water to Metro Manila and Central Luzon areas.

“Nag-i-improve siya pero ang sabi nga namin ‘yung improvement niya hindi natin masasabing okay na tayo para maging business as usual tayo sa paggamit natin ng tubig. We’re not out of the woods yet,” David said.

“Sabi nga natin, mas mababa siya kumpara sa mga nagdaang taon,” he added.

David warned that water consumers may again experience supply shortage in the next dry season if the normal operating level at Angat dam will not be hit by the end of the year.

“Kapag hindi po kasi siya naka-recover dun sa target natin na 212 meters, then magkakaroon ng impact ito sa water supply natin particularly for the Metro Manila residents at kasama na rin yung sa irrigation which is around 27,000 hectares sa Bulacan at Pampanga,” he said.

“Baka magpapatuloy po, most likely ay magpapatuloy ang kabawasan sa suplay natin sa tubig,” he added.

Parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas are still experiencing rotational water interruption due to insufficient supply.

According to PAGASA, the water level at Angat dam may only reach 200 meters even if the northeast monsoon prevails until February next year.

The state weather bureau has not monitored any weather disturbance that may develop into a tropical cyclone outside the Philippine area of responsibility. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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