Gov’t addresses PHL water supply with P1.73-B release

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, July 9 (PNA) — In line with the administration’s thrust to provide adequate potable water sources in waterless tourism areas — including some of the poorest in the country — the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released some P1.73 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to implement water supply projects nationwide.

DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said the Tourism Water Supply Infrastructure program — a convergence project between the DPWH and the Department of Tourism (DoT) — was designed to spur tourism and economic activity in identified priority development sites all over the country.

“Through the joint efforts of these agencies, the administration has identified various in-need locations nationwide which have been waterless for years now. As poor as these communities have been, however, we understand their potential for growth, especially through local tourism. Our latest fund release aims to respond to this need and potential by developing water supply facilities in these areas,” he said.

Abad said the updated National Tourism Development Plan for 2011-2016 has also allowed the government to home in on tourist destinations that require proper and sustainable water supplies and sanitation facilities.

“Providing such infrastructure would be crucial in enriching tourism growth and development in these areas. This, in turn, would further promote a more vibrant, beneficial, and lucrative economic environment for these local communities,” he stressed.

The DBM chief said the P1.73-billion release was charged against the DPWH’s budget for Water Supply and Sanitation for poverty areas and tourism priority sites under the 2014 General Appropriation’s Act (GAA).

Leading the list of priority implementation areas are the cities of San Carlos in Negros Occidental and Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte, which have both been allotted P138.6 million, respectively.

Abad said the identification and list of priority areas were prepared by the DPWH, DOT, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

“We continue to pursue priority investments in developing our tourist destinations. Providing better access to safe and clean water facilities is one of these priorities,” he said.

“The Aquino administration remains focused on expanding the country’s tourism industry. Such a move allows us to showcase the Philippines’ natural beauty, while stimulating the local economy and creating more jobs for the residents of these communities,” he added. (PNA)