MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said that the Philippines is pushing to improve the management of its water resources as the country braces for a possible water crisis due to El Niño.
“Kahit walang El Niño may problema talaga tayo sa tubig. I’m talking about fresh water supply, drinking water, irrigation water. Ito lahat kailangan talaga nating tingnan,” the President told reporters in a chance interview.
“We have an overall plan in that we are changing the way that we acquire the supply of water and we are going to shift from the majority of water sources now, which is kumukuha tayo laging balon kinukuhanan natin, we always dig wells, whereas what really we should be doing is taking advantage of surface water,” he said.
The administration is also placing more emphasis on the creation of water-related infrastructure such as hydroelectric power plants, flood control projects and irrigation systems, Marcos Jr. said.
“Lahat 'yan binigyan natin ng diin para mas maging maganda dahil sa agrikultura naman ang pinakamahalaga para makakita ng magandang produksyon ay ang patubig. 'Yan ang titignan natin,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), on the other hand, has identified hybrid varieties of rice and other high-value crops that farmers can plant during dry spells, said Marcos Jr., who is also heading the DA.
“So pinapalit-palitan natin ang variety to take advantage of the different qualities and the different varieties not only rice but also of the high value crops dahil pag dry season ang ibang lugar na hindi nagtatanim ng palay ay high value crops ang kanilang tinitignan,” he said.
“All of these things we have already together an overall plan. Now we have to implement it because we have to put together,” he said.
“There are many agencies that are concerned when it comes to water management so we have to make it a more cohesive,” he said.
Earlier this month, Marcos Jr. announced the creation of the Water Resource Management Office that would be attached under the Office of the President and under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“We are hoping down the road, meron nang bills that have been filed in both houses na itinatayo ang Department of Water Management,” the President said.
The Philippines is also looking to replicate good water management practices from around the world, he said.
“Hindi katanggap tanggap na ang Pilipinas kulang sa tubig,” Marcos Jr. said.
“Alam naman natin basang-basa ang Pilipinas. We are a tropical country and so it’s really a question of managing our water,” he said.
“We kept postponing this problem over the many, many years at every level so it’s time to put it together, to put in a cohesive plan na masusundan ng lahat ng LGU, ng mga agencies of government.”