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Water saves PNoy's speech on World Water Day

March 22, 2011 9:18pm

Water proved to be very useful to President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday when he delivered a speech on the importance of water.

Aquino’s speech, as it turned out, was marred with coughing fits, prompting him to drink water several times just to be able to continue talking.

“This is the reason I needed water also," he said in jest. “Allow me to take a little bit more."

In his speech, Aquino said he finds it ironic that the Philippines is threatened with water scarcity when the country is surrounded by water.

He also noted that around 16 million Filipinos or 80 percent of the population still do not have access to safe and sustainable supply of water.

“This lack of water is a threat to national development. The shortfalls in the quantity and quality of infrastructure, including water supply and sanitation facilities, are critical constraints to our economic growth and poverty alleviation measures," Aquino said.

The speech was part of the celebration of the World Water Day at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

In their respective speeches, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said at least 238 towns all over the country are waterless.

Aquino said the throwing of garbage and pouring of sewage into the bodies of water, which pollute the waterways and facilitate the spread of fatal and infectious diseases, remain prevalent especially in highly-urbanized areas, and cause the scarcity of drinking water.

A thirsty nation

“The results: polluted bodies of water, environmental degradation, malnutrition, and sometimes, death. In short, despite being an archipelago, we are a nation thirsty for clean, potable water, and a nation thirsty for change," he said.

Amid the problems, he assured the public that the government is exerting efforts to provide potable water to all.

“Through the joint efforts of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), we have inched closer to fulfilling the advocacies of the Millennium Development Goal Achievement Program (MDG F-1919)," he said.

The MDG F-1919 or Enhancing the Access to and Provision of Water Services to the Poor, is a joint program of the three government agencies aimed at responding to the needs of waterless municipalities. Waterless municipalities are those with less than 50 percent water service coverage.

Water code

Aquino said the government is working to equip the local government units and key government officials with the knowledge to combat water scarcity, specifically in developing, operating, and managing their own potable water utilities.

“In short, despite the many challenges, we are consolidating efforts to reach our common goal of allowing each and every Filipino access to safe and clean drinking water," he said.

He said NWRB is reviewing the Water Code of the Philippines and finalizing its amendments to make it more responsive to the changing needs of Filipinos.

“All these tasks need to be considered as high priority issues so that we can provide our children the healthy future they deserve," he said.

He added NEDA and NWRB are also developing an adjusted tariff setting methodology for small water service providers to ensure adequate tariffs that will lead to cost recovery and improved service.

The President, however, admitted that the adjusted tariff will take time to develop.

“Another critical success factor is the development of a cost recovery system that not only recovers the costs of service provisions, but one that also generates profits. This can take time to develop. It requires a careful mix of tariffs, taxes, and budget transfers together with some form of social tariff to assist the poorest communities," he said.

Aquino said the bottom line of all of the efforts is to allow “the people access what is rightfully theirs."

“That is what our government has committed to do from the beginning, and that is what we will seek to do in the next five years and three months: to rebuild this nation into one where every Filipino can live a dignified life, where no one is left behind," he said.

Robredo said the government will try to supply potable water to the waterless municipalities in three years. “Isandaang munisipyo po taun-taon ang bubunuin para malagyan ng tubig ang 238 lugar na walang tubig," he said. - KBK, GMA News
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