Press Release
March 14, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored that proposed reforms to the water sector will not result in the outright dismantling or blanket privatization of the country's water districts.

Angara, Chair of the Senate sub-Committee on Water, said that these reforms will in fact bolster initiatives to improve the service levels of water districts in terms of water supply and sanitation.

He made the statement in reaction to pronouncements from Gilbert Camaligan, National President of the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD), that the proposed measure poses a threat to the existence of water districts, numbering around 800 at present.

"I think that's a sweeping generalization, one which glosses over the fact that the very objective of these reforms is to ensure the proper utilization and management of the country's water resources via a systems approach," said Angara, during the recent public hearing on the Water Sector Reform Act or WSRA (SBN 2997). "In the first place, the country is currently beset with a very disjointed, highly fragmented water sector.

"Take for example in Aurora, my home province--there are four towns that are 20 minutes away from Baler, the capital, and each represent a separate water district, with their own pumps and water infrastructure.

"What if we rationalize the system between these four towns and form a 'metro' water district? The water districts will then be able to combine economies of scale, repipe and focus also on sanitation--something that is just as important as guaranteeing water supply."

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary and water czar, Rogelio Singson who was also at the hearing, remarked, "There is no intention of putting all the water districts into a single corporation. I don't think there's any pending bill that contemplates that."

Singson continued, "What is needed in the country is to improve the coverage and service levels of the water districts. The fear of putting all the water districts into one, of abolishing them--that is not part of the proposal."

Angara concluded, "For sure, we will need to dive further into the details of how the water sector should be reformed, reorganized or restructured. But that is precisely why we undertake consultations in the legislative process--to make sure that the resulting measure is enlightened and able to lift everybody's boats."

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