With El Nino threatening a protracted and widespread water shortages across the country, Sen. Nancy Binay wanted to know if the government was able to put up rainwater collector systems in more than 42,000 barangays in the Philippines.
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.
“El Nino is here and the water crisis is real, imminent and prevalent. Thirty years mula nang maisabatas ang RA 6716, gusto nating malaman kung ilan sa mahigit 42,000 barangay ang meron rainwater collection system (RWCS) na ginawa ng gobyerno,” Binay pointed out.
Rainwater harvesting is not only for the provision of potable water and for agricultural and industrial purposes, it is likewise being advocated by environmentalists to mitigate the effects of climate change, conserve water, help normalize the water cycles and as mitigating measure against floods.
“The program should have been completed back in 1991, pero parang wala tayong sense of urgency at hinayaan na lamang natin matulog for 30 years… I urge the DPWH, DILG and LWUA to make a joint inventory and audit of all RWCSs to check how many of the 42,000 barangays have complied with RA 6716,” the lady senator stressed.
DPWH, the lead agency of a task group on rainwater conservation, is given a yearly budget for the construction of RWCSs and rehabilitation of water supply systems. In the proposed 2019 national budget, the department has an allocation of P1.27B for RWCS projects.
“Thirty years po ang nasayang na panahon na dapat ay mayroon ng kapasidad ang bawat barangay natin na bigyan katugunan ang baha maging ang kakapusan ng tubig sa panahon ng tag-init,” she added.
According to Binay, government failed in constructing 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.
With the creation of the Department of Human Settlements, Binay said all water system-related offices can be integrated under human settlements.
“The Philippines is blessed with water, but why haven’t we made any significant step forward in mainstreaming climate change adaptive measures in our water systems. Historically, water is an important element in urban planning, and it is just appropriate to bring together bureacratically-fragmented offices under the Department of Human Settlements. With this, we can expect more accurate and timely decisions about water resources, yet aligned with the direction of the DHS in terms of policies and regulations,” she added.
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