Congress may delegate government takeover of water services

Senator Panfilo Lacson recently said Congress may delegate to President Rodrigo Duterte the power of the state to take over the operation of public utilities, particularly water services, amid a looming water crisis in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Photo: Philippine News Agency

Lacson, however, noted that the President must declare an emergency first before Congress could delegate such power to him.

“Given a looming if not already existing water crisis, under Sec. 17, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution and existing jurisprudence (David vs Arroyo, GR No 171396 on May 3, 2006), Congress may delegate to the President the power of the state to take over the operation of public utilities,” Lacson said.

“However, the President has to declare an emergency, and if Congress delegates that power to him, the government must be ready to compensate whatever losses the private concessionaire(s) would incur during the period of the government takeover,” he added.

Lacson’s proposal came after President Duterte said he is considering the use of “extraordinary powers of the presidency” to fast-track the construction of the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project to prevent another water crisis in Metro Manila.

“I will use the extraordinary powers of the presidency. I could not just allow people to go about without water even for drinking,” Duterte said in a media interview in Malacañang on Monday.

Duterte said despite opposition by groups, which claimed that the construction of the Kaliwa Dam would displace indigenous peoples (IPs), he felt it would benefit more people.

The President said the government could easily place “safeguards” for the land and people that may be affected by the construction of the China-funded dam.

“It might create some danger and damage but that is not my concern. My concern is the welfare. The greatest good for the greatest number. That is democracy,” he added. (PNA)