PAMPANGA

Sangil: Government should act fast on water issues

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"I WILL order the Army to take over the water distribution and suspend the writ of habeas corpus against economic saboteurs. I want to see an oligarch behind bars." Then the speculation that he wanted those oligarchs be replaced with "his own oligarchs" caused quite a stir. Of course, immediately, there were long explanations from spokespersons of the palace. Let's make a roll call. The Ayalas, Lopezes, Ongpins and Pangilinan are among the few in President Duterte's list that cannot hope to enjoy a mantle of protection. On the other hand, Dennis Uy of Davao City, the Floirendos, Aboitizes, Villars and some others are in his good graces. The businesses of the latter can't do no wrong?

In my younger years, I was a hired consultant by my cousin Kong Adiong Santos of Porac, who owned Balibago Waterworks, which operates water distribution in some parts of Angeles City. When he passed away, his two sons and daughter Vivian sold it to a group headed by Tito Panlilio, a banker and in his college years and was a basketball player for Ateneo. Now, this water system grew by leaps and bounds and has several branches in operation nationwide. It only goes to show that there's much money in having a water concession. The Lopezes, Pangilinan and the Villars discovered that in time. Now more money for them is piling up. Villar has a girl Friday who goes around and shopping for more water districts. And the Villar group aside from sweet talking officers of the water districts, it's also ready to sweeten the pockets, er I mean the pot.

It is now predicted that it will no longer oil that will be the focus of nations in the very near future, but water which is fast getting depleted as a result of so much use and effects of climate change. Water is getting to be scarce and now being a commodity it is getting expensive. If the government will take action, the steps are now be studied and should be implemented ASAP. Though my bayaw, Ernesto Ordonez, husband of my cousin Sylvia Munoz, is saying that Duterte already tasked him to start an in-depth studies and the possibility of establishing a Department of Water. Let us start with the problem now being experienced by Clark Freeport which can be used as a template for other communities, and hopefully will jolt to action the national government if read by its policy makers.

In 1993 the year when Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion Law, went into effect, thus converting the former US military installation of Clark Air Base into a Clark Special Economic Zone, investors began coming in. Many years later, and today, there are now thousands of locators and counting. In the 4,240 more or less hectares of the fenced area of the freeport manufacturing companies mushroomed. Hotels, housing subdivisions, leisure estates, banks, schools, casinos, food chains, industrial park and golf courses. All of which consume on a 24 hour basis large volume of water.

In a study, it showed that Clark Freeport today consume more or less 30,000 cubic meters per day, the total output of the service provider. And at the rate of this development, the freeport including Angeles City and Mabalacat will soon face their biggest problem, water lack.

Of course, everyone knows that we pumped water from the ground. We really don't know who and how they measure the aquifer. If Clark and the adjacent communities with their respective water districts pump water from the ground and retail to thousands of households with hefty profit, the question is if they have alternative plans in case there will be a drying up.

There is project concept called the Sapang Bato Watershed Area. Recently, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin inspected the area with businessman Abong Tayag. I remember this particular project was already presented to the Angeles City Council. It is an integrated engineering development that would cover the Abacan river channel. It can be planned as a watershed that can be tapped as a source of bulk water. The location is in the area of Barangay Sapangbato, western portion of Clark Freeport.

MY TWEETS:

* Multi-level parking at Marquee Mall is in order. But please don't charge more than ten pesos.

* SM Clark management should do something about its newly introduced traffic plan. It isn't working. The desired effect isn't there. It's gone from bad to worse.

* Paging officials of the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways. It has been almost a year now and the traffic lights at the intersection of Porac-Angeles road hasn't been repaired. Please, please do something.


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