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“And therein lies the enigma, if the problem of water scarcity has been for generations, why did Sulu political leaders, governors, congressmen, mayors let their constituents suffer for the longest time,” some Bangsamoro observers asked. “Have they failed to address water scarcity?”
By EDD K. USMAN
Short URL: https://wp.me/paaccn-9Ob
(SDN) — The precious liquid is coming to water-challenge communities in the Bangsamoro Region. One community at a time. Better more communities at a time.
Maybe not yet a truly waterworld, but to address something residents’ water needs.
Ensuring the implementation of water availability is the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), one of the key line agencies of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), now running into its third year of mandate being governed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
Recently, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Lanao del Sur Gov. Bombit A. Adiong for the construction of the expansion of the Marawi City Water System that covers five areas in the Islamic City, Mindanao State University (MSU) Area Zone 1; MSU Area Zone 2; MSU Area Zone 3; Bless Area; and 12IB to Pugaan Area.
MILG Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo said the project estimated to cost Php400 million will cover around 40 barangays (villages) of Marawi, areas which are not under the funding of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM).
“This project is part of the Marawi rehabilitation support fund of the Bangsamoro Government committed by the Chief Minister to the residents of Marawi and aimed at addressing the gaps in the plans and programs of the TFBM,” said Sinarimbo.
Water from the sea for Sulu province
Earlier, in a related development, the Bangsamoro government through Sinarimbo’s MILG struck a deal with the Water Equipment Technologies (WET) Company with its mother firm based in Dallas, Texas, United States, for the delivery, installation, and operationalization of desalination machines and apparatuses for three municipalities of Sulu.
Lanao del Sur and Sulu as well as Basilan, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, cities of Lamitan, Marawi and Cotabato comprised the area of the Bangsamoro Region. Sixty-three villages in North Cotabato have also opted to join BARMM through a referendum.
Around Php30 million has been earmarked for the Sulu Municipal Water Projects in the province’s water-scarce towns, including Hadji Panglima Tahil, Pandami, and Pangutaran, which was earmarked for Php23,909,365 funding for desalination facility capable of churning 10,000 liters a day of salt water for domestic use after desalination. The by-product will then be purified into potable water, journalist Nash B. Maulana said in a report.
The MILG and WET signed three separate contracts for the water desalination projects, one of them worth Php5.909 million for domestic use and consumption of Hadji Panglima Tahil.
Sinarimbo said BARMM’s contingency funds for community development programs under the Office of the Chief Minister will be used for the Sulu projects.
Signing as Sinarimbo’s counterpart was WET representative and contract signatory Donna Faizo. She said WET for the last 25 years has been engaged in the Philippines in the business of bringing services of water projects installation, operation and maintenance, with some projects in Davao City, in Batangas, and in Laguna.
Faizo assured their facilities can desalinized saltwater 99.99 percent into potable water fit for human consumption.
Other water-challenge municipalities of BARMM, including Basilan and Tawi-Tawi provinces will also be given similar projects as Sulu’s for their own Municipal Water Projects of Saltwater Desalination Facilities, Sinarimbo assured.
And not to worry, WET will provide training for operators of the facilities from the beneficiary communities’ residents. On the other hand, local government units (LGUs) where the facilities are located will manage them as well as bear the cost of maintenance.
The youthful MILG head recalled in his prior visits to Sulu and its outlying islands seeing the hardships residents, including children, have to endure in fetching water from far places, sometimes having to get to the mainland from a far away island, with all perils of a sea ever churning waves and strong winds forming a gauntlet of hardship.
Bold step from BARMM through MILG
He noted the water problem “has been there for generations.”
“And therein lies the enigma, if the problem of water scarcity has been for generations, why did Sulu political leaders, governors, congressmen, mayors let their constituents suffer for the longest time,” some observers asked. “Why did they fail to address water scarcity?”
“This is the first bold step in addressing this issue — so the children will no longer have to experience the difficulties of health hazards in having no access to clean water. Those municipalities that are facing the same problem that is as old as time will now have access to potable water.”
Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo