By Arjay L. Balinbin, April 2 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave his consent to the proposed creation of a Department of Water that would “synchronize all the acts from other agencies to prevent the recurrence of a water shortage.”

In a statement, the President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said that a proposed roadmap, which includes the creation of a Department of Water, was presented at the 36th Cabinet Meeting at the Palace on Monday.

“A roadmap was presented, which included immediate, medium and long-term interventions, such as making an intensive campaign for the conservation of water and energy, creating a Department of Water and a Department of Disaster Resilience, dredging of waterways, replacing tunnels and aqueducts, installing water tank systems in all Department of Health hospitals and providing funding for the establishment of water treatment plants,” he said.

Asked for more details at a news conference, Mr. Panelo said the President was “okay” with the proposal to create a new department that would focus on all activities having to do with the water resource.

“Well, it will synchronize all the acts from other agencies hopefully to prevent the occurrence of the water’s stoppage that we had last time,” he said.

Mr. Panelo, however, rejected the proposal in March when it was suggested by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

“Opinion ko lang naman iyong sinabi ko noon diba, hindi naman opinion ng Malacañang. (That was just my opinion at the time, and not the government’s official position”) he said.

Also in his statement, Mr. Panelo said: “Related to this was the second item in the Cabinet agenda where National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro presented the proposed Executive Order (EO) on transforming and strengthening the National Water Resources Board (NWRB).”

“The EO will merge the NWRB and the River Basin Control Office into the National Water Management Council (NWMC). This will streamline and consolidate planning and regulation of all water and river basins in the country. It will also draft a National Water Management Framework Plan,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin