Palace eyes executive order to address Metro Manila water crisis

LIMITED SUPPLY. Residents of Hill Top, Bagong Ilog, Pasig City queue for water from a tanker. The water service interruption imposed by Manila Water has affected 250,000 to 260,000 people, the agency said. ( photo by Ruy Martinez)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday, March 13,  said Malacañang is crafting an executive order (EO) as parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province continue to struggle with the water shortage.

He said the proposed measure was relayed to him by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

“The water sector management will be more defined because now there are many agencies all over – MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System), LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration), DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) – so we will have to organize it in such a way that the water sector’s concerns and challenges are more strategic,” Duque said.

According to him, this would mean the EO will define key agencies, determine accountability, and lay out outcomes expected for all involved.

“Magiging mas organized na, kasi ang nangyayari, [ang] dami-daming agencies. Minsan nakakalito na, ‘di mo alam kung saan ‘yung accountability (It will be more organized because as it is now, there are so many agencies. It can get confusing sometimes since you don’t know who’s accountable),” he added.

Nograles, for his part, said that the economic cluster, led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, already vetted the proposed EO.

The EO, he explained, “aims to address the fragmentation in the water sector by providing the framework for an integrated and coordinated effort in planning and implementing the programs and projects to address all issues in the water sector.”

The vetting will be conducted by the Cabinet Assistance System, led by Nograles, in Palo, Leyte on Friday, March 15.

Residents of Metro Manila and several parts of Rizal have been experiencing low water pressure to no supply at all since last Thursday, March 7.

Water concessionaire Manila Water blamed the declining water level of the La Mesa Dam, which earlier reached its critical level. It also said that affected residents will have to wait for heavy rain to fill up the La Mesa Dam before the situation is fixed.

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