Water down: Bukidnon eyes tigher rules on water rights

Water is inarguably Bukidnon’s most important agricultural resource.

It is a cause of wonder, however, why the sloppy process of acquiring water permits have escaped the pruning attention of local governments.

There were doubts raised by many over the years on the questionable process of acquiring water rights permits.

But over the years, too, local governments and communities seemed powerless over the matter.

The permit is granted to companies or organizations who want to use water for industrial, commercial or other uses.

It is the Manila-based National Water Resources Board, with no local offices, that has the authority to grant the permits, based on so-called consultations at the local level.

That includes the derogatory procedure of asking the permission of the province’s highest policy making body, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, that applying firms be allowed to post a notice in the SP bulletin board about their application.

Meaning, the provincial board then can only peep, if they intend at all, at that piece of paper.

No matter how way too late (imagine how many firms now have permits from NWRB), at least the board passed a resolution towards “stricter” rules on the approval of the posting step in a bid to gain more control in the process.

It still sounds ridiculous that the role of the provincial board is limited only to the posting. But at least they have framed a way to put up a checkpoint: require paper works.

In a way, it’s already a screening and a probing process that could work in protecting our resources —us, too even if it might sound very unfriendly to the business community who adores one-stop shops.

Even if documents could be falsified, still this is a notable step.

These days, being “segurista” is the way to go as the situation is alarming with new big companies and existing ones beginning to dip deeper into our waters.

Measures have to be taken to harmonize, if not localize, the rules of the NWRB with the interests of survival and protection of the local communities, not just the business interests of the few. (Editorial, Central Mindanao Newswatch, June 9 to 16)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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