top of page
Search

LOCAL WATER UTILITIES ADMINISTRATION CHIEF VICENTE HOMER REVIL



Ensuring Water Security for the Country

By Godfrey T. Dancel


LOCAL WATER UTILITIES ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR VICENTE HOMER REVIL SHEDS LIGHT ON THE AGENCY’S FUNCTIONS AND SHARES INFORMATION ON THE GOVERNMENT’S COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM TO ENSURE A SUFFICIENT SUPPLY OF SAFE AND AFFORDABLE WATER FOR THE COUNTRY.


THE ADMINISTRATOR

Chosen to lead LWUA in February 2023, Revil has made his mark as part of the national government bureaucracy, just as he had made a name in local legislation and governance. From a local legislator and local chief executive, Revil now performs the role of the head of a GOCC which deals with specific concerns of local governments across the country. He describes the transition from local government official to LWUA administrator as being akin to moving from one world to another. “It's a totally different world that we're looking into at LWUA compared to the local government,” he notes.



Revil, however, is no stranger to the major water supply-related issues faced by water districts and local government units. “I started out as a lawyer and a public servant in our province of Masbate,” he says. “I was elected as a provincial board member, then vice governor, then also assumed the position of provincial governor. But, I would say, with that background, my advocacy towards water had always been there. Because, in our province, there's also the water district, and there were some problems with regard to water supply. So I personally know the plight of our people.”


The 2016 Outstanding Public Servant-People’s Choice awardee notes that “until now, many provinces in our country, mostly small island-provinces, have no sources of potable water. A lot of our countrymen badly need potable water.”


Revil, however, is confident of making an impact at LWUA. “I take this reality as a challenge and at the same time a call to action because as a public servant, I have to give back. It is my commitment as LWUA administrator to be there for our people in ensuring that there's water for Filipinos.” Drawing the line between his present position and his past as a local government official, he declares: “I am not a politician anymore. I am now part of the executive branch of government, an appointed member of the bureaucracy. And I am here to ensure that the leadership of LWUA will do what is needed for the water sector to develop as needed.”


LWUA AND WATER SECURITY


Water security may be defined as a society’s capacity to guarantee a sufficient supply of safe and affordable water that is essential for survival and to carry out various domestic and productive activities. This very concept served as a major basis for the creation of the LWUA and the formation of local water districts as provided for by Presidential Decree 198, issued by then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos in May 1973.



Said decree declared “[t]he creation, operation, maintenance and expansion of reliable and economically viable and sound water supply and wastewater disposal systems for population centers of the Philippines” as a high priority objective of national policy.” The same decree identified “the formulation and operation of independent, locally controlled public water districts” as the “most feasible and favored institutional structure” to achieve said objective.


For the past 50 years, LWUA has steadfastly worked for the pursuit of the national government’s goal of universal access to safe water and sanitation, including septage and sewerage management in the countryside.

Revil points to the fact that the incumbent president’s directive regarding water security is perfectly aligned with his father’s vision. “What President Ferdinand E. Marcos wanted 50 years ago was to ensure that a systematic approach to local water development would be established and maintained. What’s very inspiring is that our incumbent president also wants to ensure that there’s a continuing development of the water sector for our country,” he enthuses.


LEGACY IN THE MAKING


In response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s call for LWUA to give “special focus” on improving water security in the country, Revil unveiled the Patubig sa Buong Bayan at Mamamayan (PBBM) legacy program in the third quarter of 2023. Marcos earlier made the call in his 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA), calling for a “cohesive, centralized, and systematic” approach to the country’s water security concerns, rather than one that is broad in scope but random and haphazard in implementation.

“We have set a target of more than 700 water projects and more than 40 sanitation projects in various parts of the country. Those projects are for the new transmission or water lines for households, development of more water sources, and at the same time, lessening water wastage,” Revil shares. “We will also be coming up with projects for sewerage and sanitation, so that the used water will be treated.”


The sheer number of projects under the PBBM program entails significant funding, but Revil is confident that this will not be a hindrance, especially since this is a major project of the present administration. “We have been asking the leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate, through President Marcos, Jr., for the approval of the more than Php25 billion budget for this five-year program,” he shares. “As of now, however, we have continuing funds at LWUA that we’re using and at the same time, we were able to access USD60 million from the Asian Development Bank for these projects.”


“This will be the legacy of this administration under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.,” Revil states, again underscoring the president’s instruction for LWUA “to ensure that there’s adequate water for the Filipino people.”


REVIL IS NO STRANGER TO THE MAJOR WATER SUPPLY-RELATED ISSUES FACED BY WATER DISTRICTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS. HIS EXPERIENCE AS A LOCAL LAWMAKER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE WHO HAD TO DEAL WITH WATER SUPPLY PROBLEMS HAS GIVEN HIM PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF “THE PLIGHT OF OUR PEOPLE.”


COMMITMENT TO SERVICE

Even as LWUA is giving the PBBM Program the attention it deserves as a flagship program, the agency has not lost sight of its lending, regulatory, and other functions. “What we're trying to do here is to ensure harmony in the development of the country’s water sector,” Revil states. “There are different agencies that we have to deal with. We have to deal with local government units, because water districts must be formed through local initiative.” After a water district is formed and its board of directors is formed and its general manager is chosen, LWUA provides it with help with regard to institutional development. Its team of managerial experts comes up with the necessary interventions to equip the water district officers with the needed policy-making, managerial, and technical expertise needed to effectively run their water district.



“At the same time, we have to ensure that the water districts follow all the relevant standards,” he continues. “Because we have to follow the environmental standards set by the Departmen of Environment and Natural Resources. For example, the water must be safe for drinking, for human consumption, because safe water is life. We also have to ensure that there's environmental sustainability. This includes standards and environmental safeguards for reusing wastewater. This way, when wastewater is returned back to the environment, it is safe and clean, and it can be used again, in line with the principle of sustainability.”


As a lending institution, LWUA provides water districts with much-needed financial assistance. “We have to harness financing on the part of the local water utilities,” Revil says. “We would like to ensure that financing is being given through a grant, or soft loan at a very low interest, even zero interest as the case may be, for the development of water districts.” What sets LWUA apart from other lending institutions is its unique view of countryside water supply development—that this is not just a simple financial venture or waterworks construction project, but a comprehensive development initiative that takes into consideration a number of factors that could ensure a reliable and sustainable water service.

With a commitment to the above, and guided by the core values of dedication, professionalism, integrity, and excellence, LWUA’s leadership and entire workforce have succeeded in making the agency a model for water supply development in Asia.


WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO HERE IS TO ENSURE HARMONY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY’S WATER SECTOR.


MAKING WATER DISTRICTS WORK

With the Philippines’ archipelagic nature, LWUA is faced with the task of dealing with 532 water districts across the country, each with its particular concerns. Revil, however, prefers to look at the situation with a positive outlook. All the water districts are GOCCs and have the capability to sustain their operations. “The good thing with having them,” he says, “is that since they are local institutions, the ones running them know the conditions within which they operate. They are familiar with what is needed by the province, the city, municipalities, and barangays within their respective territorial jurisdiction, and could respond to such accordingly.”


“Of course, not all water districts are similarly situated,” Revil states. “There are developing ones, the small ones. There are medium water districts, and large ones. They each face different conditions.” As such, LWUA has to approach their concerns in different ways also. Some existing water districts somehow could not be up to par with the standards, and LWUA has to approach these differently. “Non-operational or inefficient districts are at times consolidated, combined into clusters, in order to improve management and make the investments more viable,” Revil discloses. “We have to come up with immediate steps to enable small water districts to come together and operate as bigger corporations so that they could take advantage of economies of scale in the development of the water districts.”

“Once these small water districts merge, they can serve the people better because they have bigger coverage and they can save financially and at the same time,” Revil adds. “This way, they could ensure that as GOCCs, they have sustainable operations.”


GIVING BACK AND INSPIRING OTHERS

Revil, whose parents are both former teachers, puts a premium not only on education but on public service. “My mom and dad instilled in me the idea that I should be seasoned enough and at the same time, season others. It means that I should learn as much as I could, and always give back to humanity. So that has always been my motivation for public service,” he shares. “As the son of educators, I believe in capacity development. And I will always be a student, a student of life,” the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law alumnus says.

“Even as we serve the people, we should continuously learn and capacitate ourselves. So, yes, even after I finished my schooling, even though I was already holding elective posts, I continuously studied to ensure that I have enough tools and capability to perform my duties as a leader.” This same view of personal and professional development is something the administrator has inculcated in the employees of LWUA. “I've been telling our people that capacity building is very important. You have to develop yourself, internalize the things you learn. Because the worst that we can do to ourselves is not developing ourselves anymore. There must always be change in our lives,” he says.



LOOKING AHEAD

With an experienced and dedicated technocrat at the helm, LWUA is expected to be even more relevant in the next years, particularly for the remainder of Marcos Jrs’ term. “We envision LWUA as the premier, topmost agency in terms of water sector development in the next five or so years,” Revil declares. “We want to show that LWUA is doing a great job in terms of local water utilities administration.” Revil also considers Congressional initiatives to establish the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as a “very exciting” development. Said department shall take charge of the comprehensive mapping of the country’s water resources, as well planning, policy formulation, utilization, exploitation, development, and protection of such resources.


“These are exciting times ahead of us in terms of water sector development,” Revil says, noting that LWUA, with its 50 years of experience as an institution, will continue to play a major part in the success of the DWR. Again, Revil stresses the important role that institutional learning has played, and will continue to play, at LWUA. “We have proven technical expertise on matters regarding water supply development. We have shown the capacity to do what is right in terms of financing and institutional development of water districts, and the entire water sector. We will be there to take on whatever challenges the future may bring. LWUA will continue to work for water sector development and ensure that when it comes to water security, no one is left behind,” he concludes.




7 views0 comments

Комментарии


bottom of page