President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will use his extraordinary powers to address the looming water shortage in the country, as some cities experience water interruptions due to low levels of water in Angat and Ipo dams.
“I will use the extraordinary powers of the President. I cannot just allow people to go without water even for drinking,” Duterte said in a chance interview with reporters Monday evening.
“I have appointed enough men of equal talent to deal with the problem. I don’t know where they will get but for me, they have to produce water,” he said.
Asked how he intends to use his extraordinary powers to address the water crisis, Duterte said: “Expropriation or outright police power.”
He defended anew the Kaliwa Dam project which will be built by the China Energy Engineering Corp. and is seen to mitigate the low water supply in Metro Manila and neaby provinces.
“So if your concern is local governments, it will pollute, it will destroy, just put safeguards (in place)…My concern is the welfare, the greatest good for the greatest number,” he said.
Earlier, Malacañang asked water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water to “shape out or ship out.”
“I suppose the fact that they have not undertaken corrective measures that will prevent the evolution of this upcoming crisis again would be a factor that would make the President decide on drastic action against them,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters.
“The message again is shape up or ship out. Shape up or ship out. That has always been the message of the President. If you cannot do it, then leave,” he added.
Asked about the specific drastic measures the President might take, Panelo said the Chief Executive might terminate the contracts with water concessionaires and some heads could roll.
Maynilad handles of the west concession zone while Manila Water operations benefit the east concession zone of Metro Manila and its nearby provinces.
Last March, Duterte threatened to scrap the concession agreements of Manila Water and Maynilad after millions of their customers were left waterless.
The water level of Ipo Dam in the downstream of Angat Dam plunged from 100.34 meters to 100.31 meters, La Mesa Dam from 77.42 meters to 77.39 meters, Benguet’s Ambuklao Dam from 748.99 meters to 748.76 meters, Benguet’s Binga Dam from 573.61 meters to 572.88 meters, and Laguna’s Caliraya Dam from 286.54 meters to 286.44 meters from Saturday at 6 a.m. to Sunday 6 a.m.