President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved “in principle” the proposed executive order (EO) to address the water supply shortage in the country amid the ongoing El Niño or prolonged dry spell, a Palace official said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the President made this decision on the proposed EO during the last Cabinet meeting.
“In principle, the President has already approved it during the last Cabinet meeting. So the draft has been given to the Office of the Executive Secretary already for vetting,” Nograles told reporters in an interview on Monday.
“So finalization na lang yun ng draft, so pipirmahan na lang yun ng Pangulo (So all that’s left is finalization of the draft, then the President would sign it),” he added.
Nograles said among the provisions of the proposed EO is the reconstitution of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) into a body under the supervision of the Office of the President (OP).
At present, the NWRB is under the supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources by virtue of EO 123 s. 2002.
“The best thing to do that is to put them under the Office of the President, so pending Congress passing the Department of Water, this is the fastest way that we can resolve all our water resource issues and concerns,” Nograles said.
However, he said this integration will not disrupt or dissolve any related agency.
Also under the EO, Nograles said government will be able to review all “onerous” contracts including those between the government and water concessionaires.
“Isa yan sa ire-review (That’s one of the contracts that will be reviewed) under the Office of the President, so the concessionaire agreement,” Nograles said.
Nograles, meanwhile, said the proposal to establish a water department should be brought up during the next Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting.
The LEDAC is a widely represented consultative and advisory body to the President on economic and development matters, aiming the integration of the legislative agenda with the national development plan.
“Tingin ko kailangan na [ilagay sa LEDAC] (I think this should be put in the LEDAC agenda) because of the fragmented approach that we have,” Nograles said, noting that the EO to solve the water crisis may be amended by the next administration.
“Yung EO na gagawin natin can be superseded and amended by the next administration, so ang problema nyan kung maganda naman yung ginagawa natin tapos pumalit yung bagong administrasyon, (The EO can be superseded and amended by the next administration so the problem is if we make something good but the next administration replaces it) they will just overrule or cancel that EO then we go back to our old ways,” Nograles said.
With a water department, Nograles said the next administration would first have to pass through Congress before it is replaced. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)