Philippines: TU Wants Strict Penalty for Water Polluters

May. 07, 2007

Team Unity senatorial candidates will support the passage of new legislation imposing stricter penalties on polluters of water sources.

Senatorial candidates Edgardo Angara, Michael Defensor, Cesar Montano, Tessie Aquino-Oreta, Luis “Chavit” Singson, and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said there is a need to pass laws that would deter the pollution of the diminishing water sources in the Philippines.

Oreta said the water sanitation problem should be addressed on a larger scale by drafting a plan that would streamline the tasks needed to protect the country’s water sources.

“A comprehensive water use plan must be proposed to help in the conservation and efficient use of water for the whole country in line with worldwide trends. This plan must be implemented by a stronger water management office armed with prohibitive fines and other sanctions for violators,” she said.

Singson said there is a need to conduct an inventory first of the natural water resources in the country.

“Sources must be protected including the means by which they are processed, stored and transmitted to the consumers. The regulatory arm of the government must be strengthened to ensure quality, quantity and safety. Our clean water sources are vulnerable to terror threats that can have unimaginable effects on our people,” he said.

Sotto said the inventory could be done through hydrogeological mapping where the usage plan of the natural water resources would be identified and implemented.

“This water-usage scheme will only be effective if backed up by state sanctions like prohibitive fines, cancellation of permits to operate or business licenses for erring businesses, and due imprisonment,” he said.

Defensor, a former environment secretary, said he sees the need to improve the Clean Water Act to also curb the use of ground water in the country.

“Amendments will have to be introduced to the Clean Water Act to impose stricter penalties for polluters of water resources as well as to unauthorized extraction of ground water,” he said.

Angara pointed out that lack of access to potable water has large economic cost, affecting health, agricultural production, food security, and impact on the quality of life.

“We need to pass on laws that will intensify the task of regulating water use and keeping polluters away down to the provincial, city, town and barangay level,” he said.

Montano, who featured the scenic Loboc River in Bohol in his award-winning “Panaghoy sa Suba” movie, said it is also important to actually conduct arrests, prosecute and jail those who pollute water bodies.

“There are not enough policemen roaming around looking for possible culprits. What should perhaps be done is for the municipal, city, and provincial government units to deputize barangay officials to arrest and bright to court anyone who deliberately throw waste and toxic materials into empty spaces, rivers, creeks and streams,” he said###

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