Manila residents wait by a roadside on March 14 for trucks distributing water. (Photo by Karl Romano)
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has called on people to pray for rain as about 6.8 million people began to feel the effects of a water shortage in the Philippine capital and nearby areas this week.
Supplies will be cut for several hours per day until the rainy season fills dams and reservoirs in May or June, a spokesman of utility firm Manila Water has said.
The company blamed an acute dry season and increased demand for water for the shortage.
"We are currently facing a water crisis," said Cardinal Tagle, adding that experts have reported that the country was experiencing a mild El Nino.
An El Nino is the warm phase of the "El Nino-Southern Oscillation" and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
"Our relief will come from nature, and so we implore the Master of all creation, God, our Father, at whose command the winds and seas obey, to send us rain," said the prelate.
In a circular released this week and addressed to the clergy and religious communities in Manila Archdiocese, Cardinal Tagle urged Catholics to "storm heavens with our supplication that God's mercy be upon us and send us the rain we need."
"We ask the Lord to hasten to send the rain we badly need ... so that damage to crops and other livelihoods and an impending water shortage may be averted," added the cardinal.
In several areas of the capital, long lines of residents carrying buckets and basins formed outside water stations or on street corners for fire trucks that distribute water.
The House of Representatives is set to discuss the ongoing water crisis and find possible solutions to it.
"We need to get a clear picture of the situation and how we’re going to deal with it because a lot of people are already being adversely affected by the problem," said Representative Winston Castelo of the House committees on Metro Manila development.
On March 15, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered private utility companies to release water from a dam in the northern part of the country to supply water to the capital for the next 150 days.