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Water consumers from urban poor communities and indigenous peoples leaders held a protest in front of the office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System office today to denounce its role in water privatization and to call on government to turn its back on water privatization policies.
“It is because of privatization of water services which government implemented under the guidance and full financial technical backing of international financial institutions led by the World Bank that the Philippines now has the fifth highest water rates among major cities in the Asia-Pacific. It is also because our water is privatized that the water rate cuts of P1.46 per cubic meter for Maynilad and P7.24 per cubic meter for Manila Water which the MWSS Regulatory Office imposed last year remains unimplemented until now,” Samuel Gamboa, Secretary-General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said.
The protesters demanded the immediate implementation of the water rate reduction saying there is no legal impediment which prevents the MWSS-RO from doing so especially considering it will benefit millions of consumers.
“The failure of the MWSS to implement the Regulatory Office’s decision has deprived Metro Manila consumers of what would have been welcome relief from high water tariffs charged by Manila Water and Maynilad. It is shameful that the MWSS, instead of standing by their own decision which came after a thorough audit, has been parroting the water companies’ argument that the rate cuts cannot be imposed while arbitration is ongoing,”Gamboa added.
According to FDC, government’s is going full-steam with water sector privatization with PPP projects for bulk water supply in Bulacan worth P24.4 billion and the Kaliwa dam project under the New Centennial Water Source Supply Project woth P18.72 billion, and expansion of private sector investment outside of Metro Manila.“The Kaliwa dam project which will be implemented under the PPP scheme further highlights the current administration’s emphasis on private sector investments in the water sector. In its eagerness to entice corporations to invest in the NCWSSP, the Aquino administration is running roughshod over indigenous peoples rights and environmental concerns. Why else would they invite investors to bid for the project when they know that the indigenous peoples in the area have not given their Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as required under Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” Gamboa revealed.
Indigenous groups from the dam site travelled all the way from General Nakar in Quezon province to express their objection to the planned Kaliwa dam.
“We join people from other parts of the world who are taking part in an international week of action expose the truth behind World Bank marketing of key water privatization successes. Our own experience with water privatization has thoroughly exposed this lie. In the 17 years since Metro Manila’s water service was privatized, water rates for Manila’s East and West zones have skyrocketed by 800 percent and 1,000 percent respectively. We call on government to turn its back on privatization and focus on polices that will help in the realization of the human right to water,” Gamboa said.