The Inherent right to clean water

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos March 04,2018 - 10:13 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

People who travel are necessarily exposed to the practices and lifestyles of the people in the areas they visit.

Filipinos having been to countries especially in the North (a term referring to economically developed nations) can’t help but observe the stark contrasts of lifestyles from ours, with their government clearly prioritizing the essential services that they provide to the constituents in improving the quality of their lives.

Take, for example, clean water for drinking. In the United States, European countries, Japan and Singapore, one can drink water straight from the faucet or drinking fountain without worries on its safety, unlike ours sadly. Our sense of security and comfort now hinges on liters of water encased in plastic bottles, which have, of course, added to the growing plastic scourge haunting us, including our oceans.

Why do you think selling bottled waters has become a lucrative enterprise here and elsewhere in the past decades?

In the good old days when the Metropolitan Cebu Water District was inexistent, segments of one’s childhood experience involved fetching water from communal artesian wells. Girls and boys carried pails of various sizes for the water to be used by households and for their storage in the big clay jars, an indispensable item then. The place became the community center for fostering friendships and ingrained the bayanihan spirit that used to be part of our collective psyche.

These scenario might however still exist in countless barangays still having no direct connection to the water distribution system.

Ironically, there are sitio/purok in watershed areas (which is where the urbanites’ supply of water comes from), where water is distributed through a water hose, thus, highly vulnerable to leaks and contamination.

Every so often, we read the alarming news about deaths and serious ailments of children and adults from cholera and typhoid outbreaks in communities where there has been contamination in the water source.

Such development reinforces the notion that only water which is bottled is safe. But, that might not be exactly accurate as enterprises operating these goods are not held to close government monitoring and regulation. Apart from being definitely more expensive, there is a compelling need for a certification system that assures the consumers of the highest quality standards of the bottled water production.

Undisputably, water, an essential element of life, a common good, has become a commodity. It has increased the divide as those with less has to spend more to be able to survive.

Our growing population requires a serious review of the sustainable use and management, quality, affordability and access to water on the long term.
Ever wonder how many families still rely on artesian wells or are able to sleep early in the morning to wait for the trickles of water which reach them only at said time, for their daily needs?

Our government is duty-bound to ensure that each inhabitant has safe water to drink, and equally as important, has access to it.

The Human Right to Water and Sanitation was explicitly recognized by the United Nations in July 28, 2010 and it acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all Human Rights.

Why are there still places even in urbanized cities where water is rationed?

The constitutionally guaranteed rights to life and health puts the burden on government, both national and local,

It seems to be generally acceptable that our water is not seen as potable. Hotels do take extra precautions by making the warning to the guests, to avoid potential liability.

But, why are we allowing this situation to continue?

This divisive issue on Charter Change has become seemingly irrelevant with government not prioritizing this important need by all humans, first and foremost.

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TAGS: clean water, Inherent, right, THE

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