"This man has guts."
Retired Police Lt. Gen Reynaldo V. Velasco, steps down (September 30, 2021) as MWSS Chairman and Administrator to pursue another calling.
I am proud of my fellow Pangasinense who rose up the ladder in the police organization, serving the country with unwavering dedication and commitment. He held various positions in the PNP and was mayor of his hometown, Sta. Barbara. He pursued higher education and attended various trainings that proved useful as he transitioned from the uniformed service to being a civilian public servant.
He played a crucial role in the country’s two People Power Revolutions and his first-hand account is documented in the book Silver Linings that I co-authored with him and former Secretary Raffy Alunan. Before retiring from the police service in 2005, he held sensitive posts in the police organization including being Regional Director in different regions including NCR, director at the PNP headquarters, Comptroller, and PNP Deputy Director General for Administration.
Elected mayor of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan in 2007, he pursued a 10-point agenda that ushered in a new era in the municipality. He instituted reforms in governance; prioritized education including the construction and renovation of school buildings; promoted community partnership; enhanced livelihood opportunities and job creation; and introduced programs to boost agricultural productivity, social and health services, and peace and order. He also promoted awareness on environment protection and the LGU under his leadership undertook projects to mitigate flooding and promote waste segregation.
This advocacy for environment protection was not lost when in 2017, he was appointed to lead the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. He institutionalized the Annual Million Tree Challenge (AMTC) to rehabilitate critical watersheds that affect water supply in its service area. AMTC has been successful with over four million trees planted in watershed areas in the past four years.
With his extensive experience as a manager, he introduced innovations and implemented the reorganization plan of MWSS that was put on hold. These reforms and innovations resulted in more efficient organization. MWSS moved up the ladder among GOCCs, with its category upgraded from Level C to Level B. Among 84 GOCCs assessed, MWSS ranked 59th in 2016, 38th in 2017, 34th in 2018, and 29th in 2019.
Under his stewardship, MWSS remitted a total of P1.512 billion to the national government treasury in the form of dividends from 2017-2019.
Aside from improving organizational and operational capability of MWSS, it became more responsive to the water needs of its consumers. From 2016 to 2020, the population served by MWSS increased by 8.41% or 1.317 million more customers. Households with direct access to water increased by 9% from 3.89 million in 2017 to 4.15 million households as of April 2021.
There is no assurance that in the future there will still be unlimited water supply. Water consumers in MWSS service areas are indeed fortunate to have Velasco at the helm of the agency for he has put in place a roadmap to ensure water security. This roadmap involves the development of new water sources and building of new infrastructure projects that will provide potable and sustainable water supply in the next 5, 10 and even 50 years with an increase of at least 1,518 million liters per day (MLD) by 2022.
The first major water infrastructure project completed under the Duterte administration and during the watch of Velasco at MWSS is the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project of Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation, a consortium of San Miguel Holdings and K-Water Resources. Its stages 1 and 2 have been in operation since 2019, a welcome development to the people of Bulacan. For so long, Bulacan residents have depended on water districts that were having difficulties in sourcing water despite Bulacan hosting the Ipo-Angat water system. The Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project produces an average volume of 160 million liters per day for around 165,000 households, and has a maximum capacity of 388 million liters per day.
After Angat dam was constructed in the 1960s, no new dams were erected until now. In the pipeline are the New Centennial Water Supply-Kaliwa Dam Project (NCWS-KDP) and the Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project. Both projects have dam components.
The NCWS-KDP located in Barangay Pagsangahan, General Nakar and Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta in Quezon Province involves the construction of a 60-meter high dam and a 4m diameter x 27.70 km, raw water conveyance tunnel. Kaliwa dam will have a capacity of 600 MLD. The raw water conveyance tunnel will have a 2,400 MLD capacity.
The Wawa Bulk Water Supply Project involves the design and construction of the Tayabasan multi-basin system and new Wawa Dam. Phase 1 of the project will supply 80 MLD of raw water by 31 December 2021 and phase 2 will have 438 MLD. The project is being implemented by WaWaJVCO, Inc. a joint venture formed in 2018 by Mr. Enrique Razon’s Prime Metroline Infrastructure Holdings Corporation (Prime Infra) and Mr. Oscar Violago’s San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders & Developers Group.
Another water infrastructure project undertaken during Velasco’s term was the Angat Water Transmission Project for tunnels and aqueducts.
Meanwhile, additional water sources were approved by the MWSS Board for implementation: East Bay Laguna Lake Water Source; Marikina River Infiltration Gallery plus Portable Treatment Plant; construction of Modular Mobile Water Treatment Plant in Cavite; and Kanan Dam, a long-term water source development which is an unsolicited proposal of San Miguel Corporation.
As he ends his tour of duty at MWSS, he will be campaigning for the Philippine National Police Retirees Association, Inc. (PRAI) of which he is the number one nominee. PRAI works for the benefit and welfare of all PNP uniformed members and their dependents and is seeking a seat at the House of Representatives in the May 2022 elections.
As a retired police officer, Gen. Velasco believes working for the welfare of fellow retirees from the PNP is a way of giving back to the organization that contributed much to what and where he is today.
One of America’s greatest field commanders, General George S. Patton Jr. once said “A man must know his destiny… if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder… if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.”
General Velasco has the guts. He is taking another path to serve his fellowmen.