SC orders DENR, other gov’t agencies to submit compliance report on Clean Water law

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to submit a report of the status of the compliance with the Republic Act (RA) No. 9275 or The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

The SC issued the order upon the petition of water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services (Maynilad) and Manila Water Company Inc.

In a four page resolution dated April 4 signed by SC clerk of court Atty. Felipa Anama, the SC en banc has required the DENR to inform the court of the status of the compliance with Rule 7.1.1 and 8.2 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA No. 9275, as well as Secs. 14 and 19 of said law.

Section 14 of R.A. 9275 requires the department to regulate discharge of wastewater while Section 19 mandates it to prepare a National Water Quality Status Report, an Integrated Water Quality Management Framework and a 10-year Water Quality Management Area Action Plan as lead implementing agency of the law.

It also ordered DENR to inform the SC on its list of categories of industry sector, its obligation relative to water quality standards,if any, and its plan with respect to solid waste disposal, and to copy furnish the parties, as well as all government agencies directed in its resolution with its manifestation, all within fifteen days from notice.

Aside from DENR, the SC gave the same order to other agencies, including the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), National Sewerage and Septage Management Program Office in the DPWH, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Local Water Utilities Admnistration (LWUA) and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

The DILG was likewise required to submit to the court a complete list of highly urbanized cities (HUCs) in the country.

It directed all the local government units of HUCs to submit to it, among others, a report on the status of their compliance with Sec. 8 of RA No. 9275, and furnish the court with a summary of these reports within 15 days from notice.

The LLDA, for its part, was required to submit to the Court a list of industries falling under its administration.

Meanwhile, the two water concessionaires were also required by the high tribunal to each submit an updated list of the respective service areas under their concession agreements with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and also updated reports on the status of their compliance with the same provisions of the law.

“All parties to these cases and all government agencies directed in this resolution may traverse any or all of the manifestations submitted within fifteen days from receipt of the last manifestation required by this resolution,” read the notice of resolution.

The Clean Water Act aims to protect the country’s water bodies from pollution from land-based sources (industries and commercial establishments, agriculture and community/household activities) and provides a comprehensive and integrated strategy to prevent and minimize pollution through a multi-sectoral and participatory approach involving all the stakeholders. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/