Press Release
July 30, 2010

Zubiri proposes regulation of Drinking Water industry

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has proposed the regulation of drinking water industry in the country to safeguard the deteriorating quality of potable water in many urban areas.

Zubiri noted the proliferation of water companies and franchise refill stations nationwide that sell bottled or potable water refills, a business patronized by an increasing number of Filipinos.

The senator expressed concern that the water products sold in such water refill stations are "advertised and described as mineral, spring, pure or distilled water, while they are found in nearly every corner of Metro Manila, urban areas, and tourist spots and even in remote barangay across the country."

Zubiri said that contrary to the advertisement displayed by water companies and water refill stations, tests conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) showed that these water products, even after undergoing distilling, filtering and purifying process, still contain bacteria and parasites that pose serious health problems to consumers.

Proposed Senate Bill No. 63 or the "Drinking Water Business Act of 2010" seeks to protect the health and welfare of the public by regulating the drinking water business to ensure its compliance with health and safety standards and are consistent with their advertisement.

Under the proposed measure, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will have the primary agency responsible for the issuance of water business certificates, which would be a requirement precedent to the application of local business permits, clearances and licenses.

The proposed bill will likewise holds owners, proprietors and operators of water refill stations and producers of bottled water responsible for ensuring, through good manufacturing practices, appropriate manufacturing techniques and sufficient quality control procedures provided for in existing laws, rules and regulations, that all refilled and bottled water sold to consumers comply with the World Health Organization Guidelines for Drinking Water.

The proposed Drinking Water Business Act of 2010 also authorizes the DOH and local government units to coordinate and establish a Local Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Committee that will institute and implement a water protection and treatment program to prevent contaminated ground or surface water from affecting the drinking water supplies of the community.

It likewise authorized the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) to ensure the compliance with prescribed uniform quality standards of all franchise holders of duly accredited water refill stations.

The proposal also empowers local health authority upon the recommendation of the local health office, to suspend operations of water refill stations, prohibit the sale of water products that do not comply with regulations and standards, and order the recall or withdrawal from the market of any water product that will be found unsuitable for human consumption.

The proposed measure likewise provides a fine not exceeding P10,000, or imprisonment of not more than six month or both, against any person who engage in the following offenses:

- Violates, disobeys, refuses without reasonable cause, omits, or neglects to comply with any provision of then laws, rules and regulations on the bottled water and water refill station industries;

- Interferes with or hinders, or opposes any officer, agent or member of the DOH or DILG or the bureaus or agencies under it, in the performance of his duty as such under this law; and

- Tears down or mutilates, defaces or alters any placard or notice affixed to premises in the enforcement of the law, its rules and regulations.

Repeated violators will be punished with a fine not exceeding P50,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. Business permits and licenses to operate shall likewise be revoked or cancelled.

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