Department of Water Resources should be next to WRMO: Poe

By Wilnard Bacelonia

February 2, 2023, 2:24 pm

<p>Senator Grace Poe (File photo)</p>

Senator Grace Poe (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Grace Poe on Thursday said she is expecting the swift passage of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) bill now that the creation of Water Management Resource Office (WMRO) was already approved by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

The president's move, Poe said, is a clear signal that the DWR needs to be established as soon as possible.

"We expect that the formation of the new office (WMRO) will pave the way for the establishment of a Department of Water Resources that we have been advocating in the Senate," the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services said in a statement.

The creation of a Department of Water Resources was among the priority bills cited by President Marcos in his State of the Nation Address. Currently, the measure is being discussed in the committee level at both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Marcos approved WMRO's creation during a multi-sectoral meeting on Wednesday with officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The WRMO, which will be under the DENR, will be a transitory body pending the creation of a water resources department.

Following its creation, Poe has earlier said that the WMRO is a significant initiative to better oversee and manage the country's water resources.

"The specter of water scarcity has always haunted us amid rising demand, climate change, population growth, among other factors, that necessitate immediate and comprehensive government response," she said.

However, she stressed the significance of a body mandated by law to lead and consolidate the comprehensive development and management of water resources in the country.

"The proposed department shall set the policy for water supply, sewerage and septage management, and ensure that consumer welfare is prioritized," Poe said.

This 19th Congress, Poe refiled Senate Bill (SB) 102 seeking to create the DWR, a measure that was included in Marcos' priority legislative agenda.

Under the bill, which shall be known as the National Water Resource Management Act, the DWR will be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, monitoring, and administrative entity of the executive branch of the government responsible for the comprehensive and integrated development and management of the water resources of the Philippines.

It would also manage the optimal allocation of water resources among competing uses to achieve universal access to safe, adequate and affordable water supply, sanitation and septage services.

The proposed DWR shall rationalize the economic as well as the administrative regulation of water utilities through an independent, quasi-judicial body called the water Regulatory Commission. (PNA)