President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has met with officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad and Manila Water to personally demand a solution to the water crisis affecting millions of Filipinos. Though maybe it shouldn’t be called a “meeting”, since that would imply that it was an opportunity for both sides to speak – which it was not. It was a forum for the President to tell the water officials how badly they have messed up and what the consequences would be if they did not fix their mistakes soon.
In his typical no-nonsense manner, Duterte demanded that MWSS formulate a solution to the crisis now. It is simply inexcusable that millions be asked to suffer through the water crisis and water executives are not exhausting every option to solve it.
And ‘inexcusable’ was a theme of the day – the water execs were not even given a moment to explain their side. Duterte made it clear that the session wasn’t to give a chance for them to give explanation. Any reasoning behind the shortage is just an excuse to delay solving it and shift responsibility. According to Duterte, the shortage happened because the water executives simply did not do their job. This crisis could have been anticipated, could have been tackled way before it happened, could have developed solutions while the crisis was not yet at hand.
“All they care about is get profit from the water of the people,” said the President.
Duterte, obviously enraged, said that no solution was even in sight until he threatened to personally rush to Manila from Davao. So here he is, scaring the erring execs straight to make sure they get the message – “shape up or ship out!”
The meeting was really more of a presidential monologue which lasted for around forty minutes. Duterte reminded his audience that he is constitutionally tasked to serve and protect the citizenry. The good citizens who pay their monthly water bills do not deserve this disservice and should not be expected to put up with such abuses from those who claim to work in their interests.
The Duterte administration has no golden cows. No government official is safe if they do not do their job. MWSS execs are public servants who have a duty to the people. Their job is to make sure the country’s capital has adequate water resources.
President Duterte wished, for the sake of the execs, that an investigation into the crisis won’t reveal that the shortage was just a matter of common sense. Players of the water industry are not irreplaceable, especially if they no longer serve the Filipino people.
The meeting concluded with the President ordering the officials to submit to him a report on the water shortage, to be on his desk before April 7. Following this report, he will decide whether the house needs more cleaning and if the contracts of the utility concessionaires will be terminated.