Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Opening and Ribbon-cutting Ceremony of the 6th Edition of the Water Philippines Conference and Exposition
Thank you very much. [Oh, please be seated.]
Thank you to the Philippine Waterworks Association, Inc. President Atty. Vicente Joyas; the Informa Markets General Manager Gerard Leeuwenburgh, [I hope I’ve done that right]; Pasay City Mayor Imelda [Calixto-Rubiano]; participating companies in the conference and in this exposition; my fellow workers in government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
Let me at the outset acknowledge the officers and the members of the Philippine Water Works Association, Inc. and your partners for spearheading this 6th Edition of the Water Philippines Conference and Exposition.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the water situation here in the Philippines and how it affects our daily lives. This assembly is a necessary and urgent step towards achieving our collective aim of attaining water security and providing safe, adequate, affordable, and accessible drinking water for the Filipino people.
Through this undertaking, we gather government regulatory officers, practitioners, and industry experts, who shall discuss and share viewpoints on emerging issues in the water industry, including sustainable practices and latest technologies.
I happened to – have been given the opportunity to walk around a little bit and see some of the exhibitors. And it is very gratifying to note that in fact the technologies that are being used, that are being employed in terms of water treatment, in terms of water management are well-known technologies.
We have of course fine-tuned it so that the filtration systems become better and better, our pumps become more efficient, our connections – water connections are more resilient to typhoons, to earthquakes and the other calamities that might happen along the way.
And so I am very optimistic that the solutions that we need to formulate are out there, the technologies are out there. What has continued to change in the light of climate change is the management, the stratagems on how we manage our water.
For example, here in the Philippines, the majority of our water is still taken from underground aquifers. Whereas if you manage your surface water properly, then there would be no need for us to be digging wells and starting to affect the water table that is under us, that affects agriculture, that affects construction, infrastructure and all of those effects that we see downstream.
As another example, when we used to talk a few years ago, when I was still governor, when you said water management, it generally meant flood control. And we would put dikes, we would put dams so as to be able to control the flooding.
However now, we must think in a very different way. Flood control, although many of the projects that the government has undertaken is categorized as flood control, these flood control projects no longer just are exclusively for that. We take the water and we use it for irrigation, we use it for drinking water if we have a treatment plant. We also take the water and hopefully if there is enough of a gradient that we are able to produce some power with the mini hydros.
And so these are the kinds of stratagems that we have to employ, that we have to bring down to the grassroots level because the water crisis in the Philippines – and I call it a water crisis because it is.
I was very surprised in the past years, even as senator, even as governor, that no one was speaking about water problems. Whereas every single urban community and even some rural communities in the Philippines have a water crisis.
And it’s something that we have continually postponed. We do not examine it. We do not look at it, just find other ways and put up with the idea that once in a while we’ll have to pull out our buckets and fill our bathtubs with water because there’s not going to be water for the next 24 hours.
So these are the challenges that we in the Philippines have faced. But I think, as I said, the stratagems that we see from around the world. I have been to many desert countries where I see the excellent water management. I’d spent some time in Israel and I saw how they treat the water because water is very scarce. They live in the desert.
Nevertheless, they are able to collect the water during the rainy season, whatever is available, they put fish in it to grow fish. When the summer comes, they take it out, take out the water, harvest the fish, and then that goes to irrigation and forth.
So in essence, they use water three times. Every bit of fresh water is used always more than once. These are the kinds of thinking that we have to apply to the Philippines because of the crisis that we are facing and how debilitating it will be to the entire economy, to the entire society if our water supply problem continues to get greater, continues to become more dependent on what we have been doing in the past i.e. ground water or just putting up with the water shortages.
And in terms of agriculture, as we know, anyone who is involved in agriculture, the secret to a good crop is irrigation.
And so these are the things that we really have to attend to. So it really – it impacts into the area of food supply, in food crisis. And so when they say water is life, it’s not just a cliché, it’s a truism. And it is something that we must always keep in mind especially now. And that’s why, we in the government – I just signed an executive order wherein we have created the Office of Water Management.
And the Office of Water Management brings… There are many agencies that are involved in water supply and water management and it has just evolved that way. But what we are going to try to do is to make it a more cohesive policy so that there is planning at the national level and in that way we can maximize the management of what water we have.
We all know the Philippines is not a dry place. And why do we not have enough water? So we have to employ these technologies and make a cohesive policy and make a cohesive plan for – not only NCR, not only for urban areas, for the entire country. Because every – it is my belief, even when we look at irrigation, the water supply needs also to be attended to.
So these are all of the things that impact upon it and that’s why as I’ve mentioned, we have created the Office of Water Management, and the Office of Water Management, there are bills now in the legislature to create the Department of Water Management. And so until those bills are passed, until the department is created, we have this Office of Water Management now.
So I do not mean to frighten you, to lose your appetite for lunch. But we are facing some serious challenges and we really need to work very hard together.
Again, I am optimistic because when I look around and I see the technologies and the desire for every – both in the local governments, both in the private sector – the desire to be able to provide this water supply, then, that’s where my optimism comes from.
And again, I know that you are all experienced and are all committed to making, giving our people the water supply, fresh water supply that they need, and we’ll work together on that. It will not be the work of a day or of a week, but we will start now and we will continue until it’s done.
Thank you and good morning. [applause]
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