United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Philippines

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Philippine Statement at the
13th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
Mr. Chairman,
At the outset, the Philippine delegation associates itself with the statement
made by the distinguished representative of Jamaica on behalf of the Group
of 77 and China.
In the past decade, the Philippines implemented an innovative and integrated
approach to provide safe water and proper sanitation for the whole
population. These were geared towards meeting the Millennium
Development Goal to reduce the proportion of the Philippine population that
do not have access to safe drinking water to 13.2 % by the year 2015. These
were also aimed at achieving the MDG target to halve the proportion
without access to basic sanitation by 2015.
Mr. Chairman,
The Philippine Government has gone through a wide range of problems to
effectively manage the water resources in the country such as extreme
weather conditions, increasing demand conflicts and environmental
degradation. Water quality in the country has been impaired severely owing
to population growth, and misuse of land, among others. Domestic sewage
contributes approximately 52% of the population load, while industry
contributes the remaining 48%. Most of the watersheds in the Philippines
are in critical condition as manifested by such calamities as flashfloods and
greater frequency of El Nino phenomenon in some parts of the country. The
chronic shortage of water supply in Metro Manila and the countryside has
brought to the fore, the increased recognition of the adverse effects of man?s
activities in the watersheds which has caused erosion and siltation problems
in the country?s rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Despite the abundant sources
water, it is becoming one of the critical resources in the Philippines.
Mr. Chairman,
The water resources sector continues to address policy and operational gaps
in water resources management to ensure adequate water supply. The
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National Water Forum held on 22 March 2004 called for the immediate
adoption and subsequent implementation of the integrated water resources
management framework seeking to change the existing water based
development-planning paradigm into a more national, integrative, and total
approach.
The Medium Term Development Plan 2004-2010 has set a target of 92% to
96% for safe drinking water and 86% to 91% for access to sanitary toilet
facility. The general strategy of the water resources including sanitation, as
espoused in the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan is the adoption
of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) approach that
holistically addresses the deficiencies of the sector, not just from the demand
side but also from the supply side. It involves the coordinated development
and management of water, land and related resources within hydrological
boundaries, to optimize economic and social welfare, without compromising
the sustainability of vital ecosystems. The IWRM approach requires
decision-making process involving the local governments and communitybased
institutions. The imperatives needed to dovetail all water resources
management initiatives include river basin approach, supply optimization,
demand management, equitable access of water, improved policy regulatory
and institutional frameworks, and inter-sectoral approach to decision
making. The IWRM approach has also been adopted in the management of
the Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the country.
Moreover, the Government enacted the Philippine Clean Water Act in 2004
which provides for a comprehensive water management program to protect
the country?s water bodies from land based sources of pollution such as
industries, mining, agricultural operations, as well as community household
activities. The Clean Water Act is an important legislation that pursues all
issues affecting the state of the country?s water quality. Other steps to
improve the quality of water, include the implementation of ?Beach
Ecowatch? in which 57 major beaches are being monitored for water quality,
the implementation of ?Tapwatch,? - a project that aims to ensure the proper
use of potable water in depressed areas, and the classification of water
bodies to complete the remaining 202 unclassified principal rivers.
Efforts to strengthen the National Water Resources Board have been
initiated by the Government through the enactment of Executive Order No.
123 in September 2002. The NWRB acts as an independent economic
regulator for the water sector. Hence, increase in private-sector participation
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and investment for water resources is expected. A separate agency, the
National Anti-Poverty Commission has been tasked to spearhead the
Government?s plan to provide potable water to waterless communities.
Mr. Chairman,
In order to sustain and mainstream water resource development and
management activities, the Philippine Government has considered raw water
pricing (RPM) mechanism to promote more efficient allocation and
utilization of water to generate revenues that can be used to ensure
continuous supply. However, raw water should be priced on its economic
value taking into consideration cost recovery and the public willingness to
pay. The second initiative was the establishment of an industrial wastewater
effluent fee program which primarily aims at increasing effectiveness of
water pollution control efforts and also to complement existing regulatory
mechanisms. The user fee system was designed to reduce pollutant loading
into Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the country and its tributary rivers by
requiring discharges of liquid wastes to shoulder the cost of pollution
prevention and abatement into their business decisions and actions. IWRM
has also been mainstreamed by equitably providing potable water to the
entire country with priority given to ?waterless? barangays/municipalities
through private sector and private investment.
While the Philippines is yet to fully realize the outcome of the IWRM
strategy on a national level, the Laguna de Bay experience showed that this
strategy can effectively address issues on water resource management. The
different tools it promotes indeed contribute to sustainable use of water
resources. However, this initiative should be paralleled with intensified
awareness campaign and advocacy activities.
The provision of safe water supply necessitates improvements in
environmental sanitation to reduce incidence of water-borne diseases. At
present, many poor households remain without access to safe excrete
disposal while water districts lack the needed incentives and support to
provide and improve sanitation services. A range of low-cost sanitation
programs is required as well as long-term investments in hygiene promotion.
The Philippines recognized the need to develop a National Strategy for
Sanitation to improve access to basic sanitation.
Mr. Chairman,

The initiatives outlined above are some of the wide ranging policy options
and actions that the Philippines is undertaking to overcome the obstacles
impeding the achievement of water goals and targets agreed in the JPOI.
While the challenges are enormous, the Philippines is optimistic that the
national policies coupled with regional- and international-supported actions
in addressing the challenges on water and sanitation can make crucial
difference to water management.
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