July 3, 2012
ANGARA CALLS FOR BETTER WATER AND RENEWABLE
Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for the proper management of the country's water resources and the active development of a national renewable energy energy during the the CleanEnviro Summit held in Singapore.
"We live in an era characterized by scarcities, not the least in water and energy," said Angara during his speech at the summit's Clean Environment Leaders Sessions.
Angara, who just arrived from Singapore, noted that 16 million Filipinos, or around 20 percent of the population, are without water, while another 15 million do not have ready access to electricity.
"To spur our rapid economic growth, we will have to bridge these gaps," explained the Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology. "But we cannot afford to mismanage them such that we inflict undue harm to our environment and jeopardize our future."
The veteran lawmaker, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), emphasized the pivotal role of the Philippine government and of collaboration between stakeholders in the success of policies aimed at promoting sustainable economic development through proper resource management.
The former UP President cited the biogas power plant operating at the Payatas dumpsite as a prime example of such an initiative.
"Despite the tragedy in 2000, it was still very hard to close the dumpsite because it represented a source of livelihood for residents in neighboring areas," said Angara. "Instead, the local government of Quezon City converted it into a controlled waste disposal facility with a power plant producing 200 kilowatts of electricity, half of which goes back to the residents as free street-lighting."
He also pointed out that the Philippines has embarked on a partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to replace approximately 3.5 million conventional combustion-engine tricycles with electric counterparts
Angara added, "COMSTE, together with the DOE, identified that for these electric vehicles to flourish as public transport, initiatives will have to be undertaken in key areas such as standards specifications, battery testing, and R&D."
He lamented that while initiatives in cleaner energy are underway, the country's transition to green power has been hampered by the piecemeal implementation of the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008, which he authored.
He also stressed that the highly fragmented setup and weak regulatory framework of the country's water sector has aggravated already poor water and sanitation services, especially in the provinces.
"Over 30 government agencies are involved in the sector--a model that has proven to be downright inefficient. To me, this setup is presently the greatest hindrance to ensuring adequate and safe water for everyone."
Angara is the main proponent of two bills aimed at improving the water services in the country through institutional reform, namely the Water Sector Reform Act (WSRA) or SBN 2997 and the Water Regulatory Act or SBN 2641.
He concluded, "A key philosophy behind these bills is the recognition that the improvement of the water sector is not as simple as merely imposing more regulation. With these bills we propose a three-pronged approach--reforming the water sector itself, fixing the overarching regulatory framework, and providing adequate but reasonable economic regulation."
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