AMID parched conditions in Metro Manila and 71 provinces, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel wants Congress to investigate what he called “the lifeless performance” of a 30-year-old law that requires the installation of rainwater collectors in all barangays.
“We actually have a 1989 statute that calls for the construction of rainwater harvesters in all barangays. But it seems that the execution of the law has been wanting,” Pimentel said, referring to the Rainwater Collector and Springs Development Law, or Republic Act 6715.
“Congress has to ascertain the factors holding up the law’s aggressive operation, and fix the problem right away –whether it is simply due to lack of funding or other issues,” Pimentel said.
Section 2 of the law states: "The Department of Public Works and Highways shall, within 30 days after the approval of this Act, undertake the construction of water wells, rainwater collectors, development of springs and rehabilitation of existing water wells in all barangays in the Philippines in such number as may be needed and feasible, taking into consideration the population, hydrologic conditions, costs of project development and operations, financial and economic factors and institutional arrangements."
Pimentel cited the need for communities countrywide to routinely hoard rainwater during the wet season for use during arid conditions.
At present, Metro Manila and 40 provinces are reeling from a “dry spell,” according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Areas are under a dry spell have had “three consecutive months of below normal rainfall (or 21 to 60 percent reduction from average), or two consecutive months of way below normal rainfall (or greater than 60 percent reduction from average).”
In Luzon, the 24 provinces under a dry spell are Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.
In the Visayas, the 11 provinces under a dry spell are Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar and Samar (Western Samar).
In Mindanao, the five provinces under a dry spell ar: Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Tawi-Tawi.
According to a PAGASA assessment, 31 other provinces are experiencing either “drought” or a “dry condition.”
Drought means “three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall (greater than 60 percent reduction from average), or five consecutive months of below normal rainfall (or 21 to 60 percent reduction from average).”
The 10 provinces reeling from drought are: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Occidential Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao and Sulu.
The 21 provinces experiencing dry condition, or two consecutive months of below normal rainfall, are: Ifugao, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bulacan, Aurora, Rizal, Guimaras, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Southern Leyte, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Basilan and Lanao del Sur.
Meanwhile, Pimentel urged local governments to require large water users, such as malls, office buildings and golf courses, to install their own rainwater collectors. (PR)