President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday approved the creation of a Water Resource Management Office (WRMO) to manage the country’s water resources and respond to the current environmental challenges through a concerted government effort with the help of all sectors of society.
During the multi-sectoral meeting in Malacañang, President Marcos discussed the importance of planning with regard to water management, as he underscored the need for a plan that will serve as a roadmap for waste management agencies.
“Kaya nga kailangan sumunod sa plano. That’s why we have to strengthen the mandate of the Water Management Office. We have to bring them together so that they are all following the overall plan,” Marcos said as he pointed out that adhering to the plan has to be compulsory.
“So that whatever the relationship we come to with MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) and Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and the Water Board, DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and this new Water Management Office, it has to be cohesive in the sense that kailangan ‘yung recommendation ng management office sinusundan,” President Marcos explained.
The President suggested that the WRMO’s first action should be reducing the country’s reliance on groundwater and deep wells, as well as managing surface water supply.
“That’s as far as I could tell. We have sufficient… there’s enough water in the Philippines hindi lang natin ginagamit, tinatapon natin,” Marcos said.
An executive order (EO) will be crafted to enable the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), MWSS and LWUA and the other water-related agencies of the DENR to have a collaborative mechanism under the WRMO to implement water management programs.
The WRMO will be under the DENR and will be a transitory body pending the creation of a Water Resources Department.
The WRMO’s main functions include formulating and ensuring the implementation of the Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP), which will integrate various plans of different agencies.
The IWMP, which will serve as the main guiding document for the WRMO, will respond to the current environmental challenges and manage water resources through a concerted government effort engaging various sectors.
The WRMO is also tasked to champion, together with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), the passage of a law creating an apex body; collaborate closely with all relevant agencies, including local government units (LGUs), private sector, civil society, and the communities; as well as perform other functions under the DENR.
Water is crucial for food security as irrigation accounts for a 35.6 percent contribution to the agriculture sector’s Gross Value Added.
Water is critical to supporting cities and urban growth. The Philippines ranks among the world’s rapidly urbanizing countries, with over 47 percent of its population living in cities in 2021, requiring large water projects, including bulk water supply and sanitation infrastructure.
It also has a significant part in the country’s energy mix, as hydropower represents 7 percent of the total energy production in the country, and its contribution can be increased by as much as 15 percent by 2030.