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Congress to probe water shortage
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Congress to probe water shortage

MANILA, Philippines, March 14 ------ Lawmakers yesterday called for a thorough investigation of the water crisis currently affecting residents in Metro Manila and Rizal. Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there is a need to conduct an inquiry into the water shortage that he believes could have been minimized or even prevented had the proper agencies and private concessionaires acted promptly. “We will have to find out, investigate why this happened,” Sotto told reporters. He said he would instruct the appropriate Senate committee to conduct the investigation.

The House of Representatives is conducting its own inquiry into the water supply problem in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, who chairs the committee on Metro Manila development, last night said his panel and the committee on housing headed by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez would hold a joint hearing on Monday. “We need to get a clear picture of the situation and how we’re going to deal with it because a lot of people are already getting adversely affected by the problem,” Castelo said.

The two panels have sent invitations to Manila Water and Maynilad as well as the National Water Regulatory Board (NWRB). “Where are the 100,000 barangay rainwater catch basins?” asked Sen. Nancy Binay as she cited the government’s rainwater collector systems (RWCS) that were supposed to be put up in all barangays threatened by the El Niño dry spell. Binay said Republic Act 6716, which was passed in 1989, provides for the construction of 100,000 water wells, rainwater collectors and rehabilitation of existing wells in all barangays. Binay, who is running for re-election in the May elections, said the government failed to construct 100,000 water wells, cisterns and other types of rainwater harvesting facilities and catchment systems which should have been installed within the premises of public markets, public schools, farms and barangays with no existing water supply or where the source of water is scarce or limited.

Re-electionist Sen. Sonny Angara said Congress should also look into the water shortage problem to find long-term solutions to ensure adequate water supply amid the country’s rising population and continued economic development. Angara expressed concern over the ongoing water service interruptions across the concession area of Manila Water, causing inconvenience to many businesses and residents. Angara noted that while Manila Water has been suffering supply woes, its west zone counterpart Maynilad has not.

Rep. Jericho Nograles of the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta partylist said Manila Water should stop blaming El Niño for the company’s failure to supply water in several cities in Metro Manila, calling it simply a case of mismanagement. He cited Manila Water’s “lack of foresight and mismanagement” that resulted in the total loss of water in key areas for almost a week now. Rep. Carlos Zarate group of Bayan Muna yesterday asked the House of Representatives to look into the sudden water service interruptions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In a resolution, Zarate said that an investigation is needed, considering that the NWRB and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) have declared that there is no problem with water supply.

Source: philstar.com