Government Urged to Review MWSS Privatization, Uphold People���s Right to Water

The WPN said privatization of public water utilities has worsened the people’s access to water. The group added that there are 16 out of 100 families in all income classes who do not have access to safe water.

In Metro Manila, water rates have also continued to increase since the privatization of the MWSS, with the two private firms increasing their basic charges by 449 percent (Maynilad) and 845 percent (Manila Water).

The group also said selling the Angat Hydroelectric power plant would only “undermine the access to water for basic domestic use of some 14 million consumers in Metro Manila and several towns in the provinces of Rizal and Cavite. It would also threaten the use of water from Angat dam for the irrigation needs of some 28,000 farmers in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.”

The WPN and Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) urged the MWSS anew to stop the selling of Laiban Dam to San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The MWSS would soon award the P52-billion dam project to winning bidder SMC.

WPN also added that MWSS and SMC are misleading the public by claiming that there would be a deficit in water supply and demand in Metro Manila and nearby provinces by 2015 if the Laiban Dam project is not pursued.

The Laiban Dam project would displace around 21,000 farmers and indigenous people in Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon, the group said. ”Constructing the Laiban Dam will further marginalize the poor water consumers through more exorbitant rates because of provisions for guaranteed profits (whether take-or-pay or other schemes) as stipulated in the proposal of SMC,” WPN said. They said an earlier estimate by Maynilad shows that provisions in the Laiban Dam may increase Maynilad rates by an additional P10 ($0.22) per cubic meter or a 37 percent hike.


(Photo courtesy of Katribu Party-list )

Tapang said it has been an easy recourse for the government to privatize the operations of basic utilities that have a direct impact on communities especially if it would give temporary income to the government.

“From electricity to transportation to water, privatization of public utilities has resulted in ever increasing rates despite poor services. In the same vein, in order to attract investors, losses—from foreign exchange to systems losses—have been passed on to consumers making it doubly hard for all of us,” he said.

The WPN added that the United Nations resolution stating that access to water is a right should also prompt the government to take more seriously its responsibility of providing adequate and affordable water for the poor. (Bulatlat.com)

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