President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Signs an Executive Order to Address the Water Crisis
On March 24, President Marcos announced that he signed an executive order creating an interim agency, the Water Resource Management Office (WRMO), to address the country’s water crisis. He acknowledged that there are existing bills filed in Congress seeking the formation of the Department of Water Resources and highlighted that the WRMO will handle water-related matters until the bills establishing a water department are passed. The WRMO, which will be under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), aims to create more cohesive policies to address the water crisis by implementing an Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) and streamlining various water plans stemming from multiple government agencies. The WRMO is expected to provide recommendations to state-owned water agencies such as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) as well as encourage a collaborative mechanism to implement programs among these agencies for a more concentrated government effort.
The President cited that a water supply problem would have a debilitating effect on the economy, noting that the resource is heavily used in agriculture and power generation and that a water shortage will have detrimental impacts on the country’s food supply. In addition, he suggested that the WRMO’s first action should focus on reducing the country’s reliance on ground water and deep wells and managing surface water supply. He also recommended the implementation of innovative water solutions like Israel’s water recycling system.
The EO was welcomed by the MWSS and other lawmakers, calling it a timely intervention that will boost collective action to address the rising water stress in the country. According to the NWRB, about 11 million Filipino families still have no access to clean water and the El Nino phenomenon is expected to exacerbate the country’s water supply shortage. The executive branch of government has yet to release the text of the EO.