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Govt may spend P1 trillion to expand Pinoys’ access to safe water, toilets

The national government is eyeing to spend P1.069 trillion in the next 12 years to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets on water supply and sanitation (WSS).

Documents pertaining to the proposed Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan (PWSSMP) obtained by the BusinessMirror, showed that the investment requirements of the government will be for 2019 until 2030.

Goal 6 of the SDGs aim to increase to 95 percent the access of the population to safe water, and 97 percent basic sanitation services by 2022 and universal access by 2030. The goal also aims to end open defecation by 2022.

“The formulation of the PWSSMP is in its final stages, with the Master Plan and its key supplemented documents currently being refined [i.e., Regional Roadmaps, Audio-Visual Presentation, Information Materials, Water Supply and Sanitation Database, and Business Cases],” the document read.

The bulk, or 69 percent of the budget, pegged at P734 billion will be spent to achieve short-term targets by 2023, while 31 percent or P335 billion will be spent in the run up to achieving the targets by 2030. Around P1.13 billion will be spent for nonphysical investments.

Physical investments for water sanitation will take up the bulk of the investments at P456 billion between 2019 and 2023, and P102 billion by 2024 to 2030.

In terms of water supply, investments will amount to P278 billion between 2019 and 2023, and P233 billion in 2024 to 2030. Nonphysical investments will reach P660 million between 2019 and 2023, as well as P470 million in 2024 to 2030.

“The execution of the PWSSMP includes three phases. The pre-investment phase starts in 2019. The Investment Program covers the projects in 2020 to 2023, and 2024 to 2030. Implementing the projects requires the commitment and collaboration among agencies in the WSS sector, and a strong champion is key to coordinating all efforts. While the envisioned apex body is being considered, a project management office can assume this role in the interim,” the documents read.

Department of Water

Former Environment Secretary Elisea Gozon, the lead author of the Water Executive Order and the bill to create the Department of Water, said recent developments such as the closure of Boracay and the Manila Bay cleanup are “encouraging.”

Gozon said the proposal to create a separate Department of Water has been around since the time of former President  Fidel V. Ramos. However, it was only now under the Duterte administration, was it given serious attention.

“We need an apex body that has the strong political support and clout. I’m really happy that in the past months, the President has also focused on issues of water. We hope to build on that. Beyond just the water quality, its really more overall water management and we need to ensure that all aspects of water management are actually covered,” Gozon said.

In order to fast-track efforts to create the new department, Gozon said the government will come up with an executive order  on water. The EO seeks to transform the National Water Resources Board  into the National Water Management Council (NWMC).

The NWMC will act as the interim body to pave the way for the Department of Water or Department of Water Resources, which is well-within the powers of the President. The President, Gozon said, has the authority to restructure the entire Executive branch.

Gozon said these developments could not have been more needed as the country’s water resources are already under stress.

Documents obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that 87.68 percent of the population are getting water from safe sources while the remaining 12.32 percent are getting water from unsafe sources.

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