Engr. Ernie A. Labuntog
CREATING JOBS THROUGH MANUFACTURING
MINIATURIZED WATER TREATMENT DEVICES
The paper discusses about creating jobs through the manufacturing of a miniaturized water treatment device designed by the author. This water treatment device is a miniaturized version of MWSS in Balara and similar treatment plants worldwide. Weighing an average of five (5) kilograms, it can be transported to any part of the Philippines, including those hard to reach areas in small islands and isolated places. All the functions of the large water treatment plants are miniaturized and simplified so it could be operated by anyone without special skills. No electricity is needed.
Unskilled personnel did the manufacturing of the miniaturized water treatment devices. It is a cottage industry kind of business. The water treatment devices are made of local materials abundant in the Philippines. Manufacturing the miniaturized water treatment devices can potentially employ thousands of informal settlers. This can also be tied up with the building of mini lagoons that can store runoff water needed during the dry months. The miniaturized water treatment device could be used to treat stored run-off water to make it potable. Thousands can be employed by these manually built mini lagoons. A multiplier-effect can result in such undertaking with the processing and manufacturing of raw materials needed to assemble miniaturized water treatment devices. The clay pot or “banga” industry can be revived as well by modifying it with a miniaturized water treatment device sitting on top of it. Potable water stored in a clay pot is good tasting as well as cold, as if refrigerated. The taste is much better compared to potable water stored in a plastic container.
There is a market for miniaturized water treatment devices. In 2009, Manila Water Corp. ordered 8 large capacity units of the device for use in Barangay Sibol in Bulacan as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. The organic vegetable farming barangay is so isolated that one has to cross two rivers to reach it. Miniaturized water treatment devices are needed in such communities for drinking water supply as well as for washing vegetables. In 2012, DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson ordered 100 units of these portable water treatment devices for the drinking water supply of the victims of typhoon “Pablo” in Compostela Valley. The miniaturized water treatment devices were also used in Catanduanes during the 2013 cholera outbreak, and in the relocation sites in Rodriguez, Rizal managed by NHA during the 2012 “Habagat”. Recently, miniaturized water treatment devices were used in six barangays in four municipalities in Bohol in the aftermath of the 7.2 earthquake.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his group of advisers including Prince Willem-Alexander now King of Holland recommended in 2002 to use simple, indigenous, innovative and inexpensive method of water treatment to address the third world problem of drinking water. This is specifically included in the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water by 2015. According to DENR early this year, an estimated 19 million Filipinos do not have access to clean water. These are found in inhabited islands less than 1,000 hectares without groundwater as well as in far-flung places not reached by the services of the water districts and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).
A nationalistic fervor in the manufacturing of a local technology such as miniaturized water treatment devices could enable the Philippines to meet its MDG commitment on water by 2015 and beyond. It can also help solve our unemployment problem.
Ernesto A. Labuntog is a Filipino inventor and engineer. He has over 40 years of work experience on water technologies in the Philippines and abroad. This includes the design, fabrication, operation and maintenance of reverse osmosis plants. Mr. Labuntog finished High School in Cebu City and studied mechanical engineering in Manila. He worked at the Wake Island Air Force Base Mid-Pacific in Hawaii, then at the Sultanate of Oman, then at Saudi Arabia and at the United Arab Emirates.
Since his retirement in 1996, Mr. Labuntog has been doing research on water treatment. He invented the portable water treatment assembly/device, which was granted an invention patent by the Intellectual Property Office-Philippines in 2006. He has other invention patents, including a rapid multi-media filtration system or RMMFS, which was granted a patent in 2005. Two of his inventions are still to be applied for patents. These are the backwash and rinse outfit of the portable water treatment device, and a pressurized design of the portable water treatment device that does not need the use of electricity. He is working on sea water desalination without the use of electricity, with three of his designs ready to be prototyped but are on hold due to financial constraints.
With these technologies and inventions, Mr. Labuntog believes and advocates that potable water should be available at low cost in all parts of the Philippines.
Thank you for helping us by citing the seminar when using these documents (17th Sustainable Shared Growth Seminar of the Sekiguchi Global Research Association, February 11, 2014, College of Engineering, University of the Philippines)