Access to Clean Water is a Basic Human Right
by Alvin John Ballares
May 10, 2019
This is the first instalment of the four-part series of talks by the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International and the Humanists International. This is one way to promote humanism, through informative discussions.
We had to change the venue though for some safety concerns, from Kukuk’s to Cafe Mezzanine. Kukuk’s now is dilapidated and dark.
Just a little backgrounder, the entire province of Cebu was placed under a state of calamity on Monday, March 25, and the damage on agriculture has reached P103,735,420 already. Thus “Access to Clean Water is a Basic Human Right” is just relevant and should be discussed.
Mr. Ryv Ryla, University of San Carlos post-Grad who is also a member of HAPI, initiated the discourse.He brought along with him his two friends who provided us well-thought insights regrading Cebu’s issue on water.
The discussion has two main points:
- Ryv first established the importance of water, how it is a basic human right and the politics involved, or water politics. He walked us through the history and geography of Cebu to give us a good context of where this water issue is coming from.
- Water politics, how is this a political issue and should be everybody’s concern. Talking about water politics is not a walk in the park, considering that it’s election season, an Achilles to most incumbent politicians, much more that this should be every constituent’s concern.
Ryv, in his lecture, said, “water as a vital necessity for life”. He stated “humanists should concern ourselves with water for it is our most common resource that we share regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, or beliefs”.
Ryv , then, transitioned to the current issue in metropolitan Cebu. Ryla said, “Cebu is one big sprawling metropolis, and historically the city is short on water due to a lack of fresh water sources”. The population boom in the 90’s exacerbated the shortage on water. Cebu is still rapidly expanding as big businesses continue to pour in. It’s just ironic that modern buildings now occupy Cebu skyline yet water infrastructure is severely lacking in the province.
Politicians have not tackled water supply issues as a major political agenda. This is a systemic failure of the government to see water as basic human right. In the discussion, one of the action plans we have agreed on is that civil societies should hold the government into account by initiating actions to encourage citizen participation. It is disservice to the people if this issue is not addressed.
Participants joined the discussion to make it an open market of ideas. Some provided with resolutions like more lobbying, provide processes for citizen participation, and investing on a desalination plant. With all these, we can make sure that those in power are made to answer for their decisions, actions, and inaction. The whole discussion was intimate and interactive. Kleng Agbayani of HAPI Manila spared a couple of hours of his vacation just to join this event.