Water crisis to be a crucial electoral issue - analysts


Posted at Mar 18 2019 11:10 AM | Updated as of Mar 21 2019 04:52 PM

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MANILA - The water shortage felt across parts of Metro Manila can be an "explosive" issue this campaign season, for local and national candidates, analysts said Monday.

Tens of thousands of customers of Manila Water in the east zone of the capital region were on scheduled supply outage last week after the La Mesa Dam ebbed to critical level.

Basic public service such as water supply is "always something that is related to public choices and something which is related to elections," said public administration analyst Edna Co of the University of the Philippines.

"It can become an explosive, a very crucial electoral issue," she told ANC's Early Edition.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said since half of the country's population lives in urban areas, where there could be water problems, it could become an election issue.

"It really depends if the issue becomes a national one and there is a question on whether or not senators or those candidates vying for senatorial slots will take it as an issue since this is a gut issue, it can easily be turned into a national issue," he said.

Co said among the functions of national-level position is to look at the scale of an issue, so the officials must examine the water crisis beyond Metro Manila.

"This is certainly a regulatory governance issue, meaning government steps in to be able to address and deal with such thing as fundamental issue as water. Water is a need, a universal item, therefore it affects so many populations, so many people," she said.

"It ought to be a national regulatory concern of government and therefore it is a concern for legislators, for those in the executive," she added.

Casiple said an issue such as this is usually against the administration and the candidates it is fielding because "they are the ones in power," but it may also be turned against the opposition bets if they are from the previous government.

"You cannot keep quiet. You have no choice, it's an election time and if it's already there on the daily media news you'll have a problem if you don't speak out," he said.

Co said the government's image would benefit if the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System succeeds in resolving the matter by working with private companies that serve the public "as quickly as possible."

"Solving a water crisis is a political issue if government succeeds in putting pressure on the private sector and say 'you have to speed up resolving the crisis.' If it does, then it's a star point for MWSS and the government," she said.

Casiple said, however, the opposition is also expected to propose solutions to the crisis because it is not simply against the administration, but is "the interest of the people."