MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night vowed to “fight all the way” to pursue the construction of the Kaliwa Dam to ensure enough supply of water as the government heightens efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Duterte said he will face the court to push for the project’s completion.
He said he would not be stopped from pursuing the project since the public would suffer from water shortage.
”I will — I will force the issue, and I will battle with them in court. And I hope that the judges and the justices would understand. Talagang hindi rin ako magpapigil. Kasi kung magpapigil ako, wala kayong tubig. ‘Yung apo ninyo. Pipilitin ko talaga ‘yan. I will — (I can’t be stopped because if I do, you won’t have water, your grandchildren. I will force the issue. I will fight all the way,” he said.
He said he expects the project to be completed “within the next two years.”
With the dry season fast approaching, he assured that there would be enough water supply so that the public could also observe preventive measures against the highly-contagious disease such as frequent handwashing.
“Meron ‘yan. 2020? Meron ‘yan sigurado ako (There will be enough water supply. 2020? There will be, I’m sure),” he said.
He also warned of “industrializing” the water industry if water concessionaires failed to cooperate.
“Basta kung walang (If there is no) reservation, I’m warning you and I’m warning everybody, I will industrialize the water industry, and the government will do the construction. And we will force the issue,” he added.
Since last year, Duterte has repeatedly threatened to order a military takeover of water service operations if water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the government’s renegotiated water contracts.
Maynilad and Manila Water have issued advisories to its customers to prepare for interruptions and limited water supply as early as this week once the dry season kicks off.
Both water concessionaires are in the process of negotiations for a new concession agreement with the government, which officials said may be finalized in the middle of the year.
In October 2019, Duterte said he is considering the use of “extraordinary powers of the presidency” to fast-track the construction of the Kaliwa Dam project to prevent another water crisis in Metro Manila.
He also warned the courts against issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs) because he will ask government agencies not to honor them.
He blamed TROs for delays in the construction of projects, saying that losing bidders simply filed for TRO to get back at the winning bidder.
Despite opposition by groups that claimed that the construction of the Kaliwa Dam would displace indigenous peoples, Duterte said the project would benefit more people.
The China-funded Kaliwa Dam project in Infanta, Quezon is expected to provide an additional 600 million liters a day (MLD) of water per day to Metro Manila and nearby provinces. (PNA)