Long wait for water from PNoy
Virtual meetings tend to be iffy but everything went well when five children from “waterless municipalities” in different parts of the country were able to appeal for government help directly to President Aquino via the magic of live video conferencing.
It was one of the highlights of the World Water Day celebration in the Philippines on March 22, and underscored how Aquino was using new technologies to reach out to the youth. (In contrast, former President Gloria Arroyo had kids from Payatas in Quezon City relay their message to her through metaphorical paper boats floated along the Pasig River.)
More than a month later, a team from GMA News TV’s “Investigative Documentaries” visited Cabusao town in Camarines Sur, the home of Cyen Esclanda, one of the children who spoke to the President during the World Water Day event. The program, which aired last week, reported that the residents were still waiting for the government to initiate a project to improve water supply in the fifth-class municipality of more than 17,500 people.
Cyen and his town mates may have to wait a while longer. Cabusao, it turns out, is not part of the 36 municipalities covered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s water and sanitation program, or this year’s 115 priority towns under the “Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat” (Adequate and safe water for all) program, a project of several government agencies led by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
Indeed, Cabusao is not in the list of 432 waterless towns, which refer to municipalities where less than half of the population has access to safe water, drawn up by the government in 2005. The town is listed by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) as having a water district, which means it should have a basic water supply and distribution system. Yet, the town’s supply of water tastes “salty” and makes infants and the elderly sick, according to Cyen’s remarks last March.
It may now be up to the LWUA, which provides financial and technical assistance to water districts, to help improve the water supply in Cabusao. But the agency’s top officials led by Prospero Pichay, LWUA chairman and staunch Arroyo ally, are busy fending off a corruption investigation over a decision to buy a failed bank. Aquino has tried
but so far failed to replace Pichay and other LWUA directors with his own appointees.
In the end, arranging the live video link on World Water Day was the easy part. Ensuring that the government is able to address the children’s appeals for safe and adequate water is a lot harder. Of course, it would have helped if the government’s event organizers also read up a bit on government programs.—Newsbreak
TAGS: Cabusao, Camarines Sur, social services, water supply