Press Release
May 15, 2023

Pia bats for sustainable water systems for all Filipinos
Highlights of the statements of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
at the second public hearing of the
Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking

Opening Remarks

For the record, this hearing will cover a number of bills. These are Senate Bills No. 16 on Water Sustainability Act, which is my bill; Senate Bill No. 310, an act to promote rural health by providing an accelerated program for the construction of a potable water supply system in every barangay in the country within three years, by our Senate President, Miguel Zubiri; and Senate Bill No. 1048, Safe Drinking Water Act, filed by our Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Joel Villanueva. This also includes the privilege speech that I delivered on World Water Day last March 22.

For those new to this hearing, I'd like to put emphasis on the fact that this is being heard by the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking because precisely of the overlapping effects of not having a sustainable water supply.

This hearing does not actually include the creation of a water department, whatever water office that the government would like to have, although we have touched on it, you can touch on it. But it really is on the overlapping SDGs on people being able to live well, on poverty being exacerbated by lack of clean water, on good health being affected, on sustainable cities and communities not being achieved precisely because of water, and how this affects the different communities. There's always the supplier and there is always a receiver of the supplies.

Remarks on the inputs of Fr. Pedro Montallana, Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance

Pwede ho ba akong mag-comment sa sinabi niyo? Nung dati hong nakausap ko din ang isang manufacturer ng sabon, kinukwento sa akin na hindi talaga mapalitan daw ang practice ng [paglalaba], ng mga nanay na kailangan tatlong rinse. So parang tatlong ligo, isasabay ko na ho yun sa frame of mind... Kasi nga kung dati ganun talaga, ngayon talagang kailangan magbago, di ba?

Sinabi pa nga nila sa akin na nag-develop sila, in the interest of sustainability... ng product na talaga namang after isang kula, tanggal na talaga ang sabon. Eh hindi daw talaga, eh. Talagang pagpipilitan. Tapos hindi pa pala happy kasi kulang daw sa bula.

Anyway, example lang na nakita ko yung good intention naman ng company, and yet hirap na hirap silang i-communicate yun sa mga user. So angganda ho na sa inyo nanggagaling yang mga observations. I am really enjoying what you are saying.
Father, can I just get a clarification sa statement niyo? Ang sinasabi niyo po is with the creation of more dams, there will be people displaced. And most of those displaced are indigenous people? That's one of the statements that you are emphasizing? Okay. When on the contrary, ang gusto niyong ma-recognize is that sila pa nga ang nangangalaga ng... forests and water resources. And yet, sila ho ang tatamaan with the dams?
Thank you for that and yan ang gusto kong discussion na na-tie up niyo din po sa sustainable forest management, which may bill din tayo diyan, separate pa. But they should not be separate. And then, yung kabuhayan and life of not just the indigenous people, but other people affected by this. So thank you very much for your presentation.

Remarks on the inputs of Atty. Homer Vicente Revil, LWUA Administrator

I'll go straight to my concern. Do you have like a 5-year, 10-year plan? Because 2030 is the goal and you have it here. You recognize the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal commitment we have. So you have a plan for this?
Target 6.1 of SDG 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation, states that by 2030... achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
I guess that's the question. In our context. What is affordable drinking water? If you are a farmer, and we know the income of a farmer, we have to ensure that affordable ang tubig na yun. What's affordable to all of us who live in the cities, we own a car, iba ang level of affordability sa kanila. How much is water in these districts (in the provinces) versus NCR?
[Atty Revil responds] So P400 pesos a month? P20 pesos per cubic meter, and that's times 20, so roughly P400.

Closing remarks

Let me leave this thought with everyone in this hearing, because clearly, there is no one here who can tell me that we will have water accessible to all, not tomorrow, not in 10 years, even with the billions of pesos that Atty Revil said they are capable of disposing of.

So on that note, how do we lessen that time so that there are more people who will have access [to clean water] as defined? So 5 minutes away, 10 minutes away, may [access sa] tubig na sila. I noted that kayo nagsabi na level 3 ang ino-offer niyo. [Level 3 - defined by the Philippine Statistics Authority as a water supply facility with a source, a reservoir, a piped distribution network with adequate treatment facility and household taps.]

Pero the reality is, of the 1.8 million you will add to those that you are servicing, there are still millions and millions who will have no water? So how do we offer them, is it a level 2, then? But a sustainable supply?

The hearing is suspended, I thank everyone. But that is the next question I want us to discuss. What are the alternate plans for true sustainability? Thank you very much.

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