DAVAO CITY – Environmental group, Interface Development Interventions, Inc., has called on the presumptive President, Rodrigo Duterte to amend the national water code and give more leeway to the local government units in assessing and monitoring their water resources.
IDIS also called on Duterte “to devolve the enforcement provisions in the Philippine Water Code from the National Water Regulatory Board (NWRB) to local government units.”
IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes said local government units are more familiar with their local water resources and can immediately conduct inspections and assessments without waiting for the NWRB team from the central office.
The group’s lobby for the devolution of the NWRB’s functions came in the wake of problems that the city local government encountered when it tried to monitor the water extraction from the Talomo-Lipadas watershed, the city’s current source of drinking water.
In 2001, the city council passed a Water Code to curb the extraction of drinking water for industrial use but its implementation was blocked by the NWRB.
“There have been efforts to dialogue with and convince the NWRB to deputize the LGU to do the regulating and monitoring functions but until now the MOA has not been finalized,” Fuertes lamented.
She said the MOA, which was prepared and presented by the technical working group (TWG) formed by Mayor Duterte in 2009, remained unsigned “with the NWRB refusing to provide their comments on the latest draft.”
According to Fuertes, the NWRB considers Davao’s local water ordinance as superseding the Philippine Water Code, which mandated the NWRB as the lone authority to issue water extraction and monitoring permits.
“But the problem is they do not have the enough personnel to monitor the country’s water resources,” she said.
Fuertes added that the NWRB only records water extractors which have been given permits “but it does not record or monitor small scale water extractors which have been proliferating and which can result to over-extraction of water resources. “
She said LGUs can complement the monitoring and regulation functions of the national agency.
The group’s proposal is the first in the 8-point Environmental Agenda that Sustainable Davao City Movement (SDCM) submitted to Duterte transition team on Thursday, May 19. (Zea Ming Capistrano/davaotoday.com)