Press Release
March 13, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara emphasized the role of scientific data and monitoring in ensuring that reforms in the Philippine water sector will lead to the sustainable management of the country's water resources, as well as contributing toward disaster risk reduction.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Sub-committee on Water, made the statement during a public hearing on the Water Sector Reform Act or WSRA (SBN 2977).

"There is a need for quick action on this matter," said Angara. "I submit that unless we do it before the end of this legislative session, we will lose another valuable year. If we keep 'business as usual' as far as water is concerned, it means maintaining a fragmented setup, where it seems like no one is really in charge."

The veteran lawmaker explained that there 16 major agencies concerned with the sector, with only five really having some hand in policy planning, data monitoring, infrastructure and program development, regulatory function and public relations.

"And yet, out of the five who have active participation in the sector, there is only one or two agencies that have anything to do with science, or science-based management of water resources," added Angara, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology. "We must act swiftly to change this setup."

"Unless we apply scientific principles, and scientific data gathering, I don't think we'll be able to manage our mostly scarce water resources as effectively as need be."

Authored by Angara, the WSRA aims to put a framework for efficiently managing the country's water resources by adopting an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.

The bill also provides for the establishment of River Basin Clusters (RBCs), as a way to manage both upstream and downstream water resources that cut across regional boundaries.

These are consistent with the presentation made at the hearing by Public Works and Highways secretary Rogelio Singson of the draft Philippine Water Resources Master Plan to be submitted to President Aquino.

In the presentation, Singson emphasized the need to create mechanisms for reliable scientific data collection, which among other things could help in a flood modelling, forecasting and warning system.

"The need for such a system is clear. If another Ondoy happens, then the communities in Cainta, Marikina and maybe even Pasig City will be forewarned," said Angara.

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