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Industries feel pinch of water shortage

Local, foreign groups urge gov’t to end overdependence on Angat Dam

Fourteen local and foreign business groups have urged the government to fast-track the development of new water sources for Metro Manila, noting they too were “experiencing hardships with the current water shortage.”

In a joint statement, the groups called on the government to prioritize water security and take immediate action such as developing a water security master plan for Metro Manila and the entire country.

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“The megacity’s overdependence on the sole Angat Dam for Metro Manila’s water supply requirements has proven to be folly, especially in the face of continued economic and population growth, climate change and disaster risk,” the statement read.

The groups included Alyansa Agrikultura, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc.

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The statement was also signed by the Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Agriculturists Inc., Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc., Philippine Association of Water Districts, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc.

The groups said that the water shortage that affected parts of Metro Manila was due to the lack of clarity with regards the responsibility over water resources.

The same statement, however, did not call for measures to increase accountability of water concessionaires, the lack of which became an issue in Congress at the height of the water crisis.

While the issue has deprived many Filipinos of a basic necessity, it has also affected businesses as some had to stop operating as their restrooms had no water.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, one of the groups in the joint statement, previously said that “many businesses had to shut down or limit operations” because of the crisis.

“Despite 20 years of a largely successful water privatization—the gains of which we hope to preserve—today’s crisis is a direct result of the ambiguity of responsibility for developing and managing the country’s water resources,” the groups said.

“This ambiguity bespeaks of the poor and fragmented governance of the water sector in general over the past decade,” the statement added.

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They said President Duterte should appoint a “water czar” who would “focus on this task of bringing order to the currently directionless water sector.”

They prompted the government to implement certain measures such as introducing water conservation and rehabilitating the country’s wetlands, water bodies and supporting ecosystems.

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