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Duterte Cabinet studies plan to create Department of Water
Residents of Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City, Manila, queue to receive water distributed on water tank truck and fire trucks on March 15, 2019. Manila has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, leaving bucket-bearing families to wait hours for a fill up from tanker trucks and some hospitals to turn away less urgent cases.
AFP/Noel Celis

Duterte Cabinet studies plan to create Department of Water

(Philstar.com) - April 2, 2019 - 12:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday said the Duterte administration is studying the possibility of creating a Department of Water to mitigate the effects of El Niño and water shortage.

In a statement, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet met at the Palace on Monday night where they drew up plans to help the country weather the heat of El Niño.

“A roadmap was presented, which included immediate, medium and long-term interventions, such as making an intensive campaign for the conservation of water and energy,” Panelo said.

The president and his alter-egos discussed the feasibility of establishing a “Department of Water and a Department of Disaster Resilience,” Panelo also said.

The Cabinet meeting likewise looked into other measures like “dredging of waterways, replacing tunnels and aqueducts, installing water tank systems in all Department of Health hospitals and providing funding for the establishment of water treatment plants.”

For its part, the country’s socioeconomic planning agency presented a proposed executive order that will merge the National Water Resources Board and the National Water Management Council to “streamline and consolidate planning and regulation of all water and river basins in the country.”

Manila last month was hit by its worst water shortage in years at the onset of summer, affecting homes of about half of the Philippine capital's roughly 12 million people.

The government has admitted that it has long anticipated the increasing demand for water, but officials said delays in projects that would expand capacity prevented them from addressing the problem.

Meanwhile, latest data from the Department of Agriculture showed damage inflicted by the El Niño dry spell to the farm sector has reached P4.35 billion as of Sunday since the start of 2019. Although reports suggest a milder occurrence this year, economists say it remains a threat to the country’s inflation outlook.

On Monday, the World Bank cut its Philippine growth forecasts for this year and next, citing, among others, the El Niño phenomenon that might reduce farm output and raise food prices.

READ: World Bank lowers Philippines growth outlook

— Ian Nicolas Cigaral

EL NIñO
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