Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera has refiled two bills creating new government agencies that would ensure sustainable use and management of the country’s water resources.
Herrera filed House Bill (HB) 1013 and 1014, which seek to create the Water Regulatory Commission (WRC) and the Department of Water, Sewage and Sanitation (DWSS), respectively.
The twin measures, she said, would help the country achieve universal access to safe, adequate, affordable, and sustainable water services and sanitation for all Filipinos.
“The Philippines is a water-rich country, yet despite an overflowing capital, many Filipinos experience deprivation from affordable, safe drinking water and a working sanitation system,” Herrera lamented.
“The perennial problem has seriously affected the lives of our citizens in terms or health, sanitation, food security and livelihood, in addition to negatively impacting the environment,” she added.
HB 1013, or the proposed Water Regulatory Act, seeks to rationalize the economic and administrative regulation of water utilities through an independent, quasi-judicial body called the WRC.
Among its functions are to set the policy for water supply, sewerage and septage management; issue licenses; set, review and approve rates; review and suspend contracts; and initiate investigation on erring officials through its quasi-judicial nature.
WRC will also be tasked to review and revoke issuances, memoranda and the like that are not in accordance with the spirit of the Commission and ensure that the welfare of consumers are prioritized.
To streamline organizational functions and responsibilities, the pertinent regulatory units of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the National Water Resources Board, and the Local Water Utilities Administration will be transferred to the WRC.
“The WRC can be empowered to level the playing field for both consumers and service providers and authorized to penalize the franchise holders for prolonged and large-scale service interruptions,” Herrera said.
HB 1014, on the other hand, aims to rationalize the resource management of water, sewage and sanitation through the creation of DWSS.