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Rep. Duterte works for swift creation of water department

FIRST Congressional District Rep. Paolo Duterte pushes for the measure to establish the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as the lead agency tasked to manage this vital resource’s delivery effectively.

At the same time, Duterte said the measure should include the creation of a Water Trust Fund (WTF) in the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), which the proposed DWR can tap to fund water sustainability projects.

House Bill (HB) 3727, which Duterte filed with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, seeks to address concerns over the country’s looming water and sanitation crisis by creating the DWR and the Water Regulatory Commission (WRC). 

Duterte said that under HB 3727, remittances from non-tax revenues related to water management, including raw water pricing, permit fees, registration fees, supervision and regulation enforcement fees, filing fees, testing fees, and other service income from the use of water resources would form part of the WTF. 

The WTF “shall be accounted separately from the government’s general revenues and shall be automatically appropriated to the [DWR],” the bill states.

Duterte said proceeds from the WTF will be utilized for water development, water sanitation and wastewater treatment and management, and water sustainability programs and projects authorized under the measure.

The bill provides that a maximum of 10 percent of the total income generated from raw water extraction shall be given as a share of the concerned local government unit (LGU) or indigenous people (IP) community which owns or has jurisdiction over the specific areas of land where the raw water was sourced. 

“Various government agencies are battling this recurring water and sanitation [crises], and there is a need now more than ever to consolidate efforts to avoid duplication of functions, improve public service delivery, and prudently manage limited government resources to address this pressing concern,” Duterte and Yap said in filing HB 3727. 

Duterte said establishing the DWR should not be dismissed as merely an added layer to the bureaucracy because its creation is not only crucial to averting water and sanitation crises but is also essential in ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page in ensuring the effective management of the country’s water resources. 

Improving the management of water resources covers not only its supply to consumers but also to the agriculture sector, which the government has committed to supporting to guarantee food security, Duterte said. 

Duterte also pointed out that efficient water resources management is a critical factor in protecting the health of Filipinos by ensuring their access to safe, drinking water.

Citing studies done by the global nonprofit organization water.org, Duterte and Yap said more than three million people in the country rely on unsafe and unsustainable water sources, while seven million lack access to improved sanitation. 

Duterte and Yap said the creation of the DWR ensures that a primary agency is on top to identify, plan, oversee, and manage the efficient use of the country’s water resources. 

The DWR will also be responsible for the planning and policy formulation toward attaining universal access to a safe, adequate, affordable, and sustainable water supply and improved sanitation services for all Filipinos. 

HB 3727 also seeks to create the WRC and its regulatory units under the DWR to oversee the functions and responsibilities of all water service providers. 

As an independent, quasi-judicial body, the WRC is authorized, among other powers, to impose and collect annual levies, fees, and surcharges on licensed water supply and sanitation services. 

Under the bill, the DWR shall exercise administrative supervision over the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA). The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) shall be transferred from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to the DWR. 

Moreover, the functions and personnel of the NWRB and other boards, offices, divisions, bureaus, and programs related to managing, planning, surveying, and monitoring water resources shall be subsumed under the DWR.


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