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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
FDC strongly condemns the recent succession of rate hikes in water and transportation which further exacerbates the already precarious situation facing Filipinos who are forced to survive with no assistance, let alone protection from an increasingly callous and arrogant P-Noy government.
While the nation continues to bask in the afterglow of the historic visit from Pope Francis who, during his stay consistently talked about caring for the poor, the P-Noy administration has chosen to respond to the Pope’s exhortation by refusing to back down on its pro-business, and patently anti-people stance on the public services.
The case of the rate increases in MRT/LRT rates, implemented on January 4 of this year is a study in callousness. Following a much-publicized series of service interruptions and mishaps which highlighted not just the state of disrepair of our main mass transport systems, but also the incredible levels of ineptitude of those running and overseeing them, the Department of Transportation and Communication did not think twice about imposing an increase in fares.
Worse, government rubbed salt on raw wound by actually using the recent spate of accidents as leverage to ram through long-delayed plans to get Metro Manila’s battered consumers to cough up more money for services that appear to be deteriorating by the day. P-Noy and his minions will excuse us for not taking the bait. The argument that the additional funds will be used to improve services, rings hollow given this administration’s penchant for juggling public funds with abandon.
The P-Noy administration’s full-blooded defense of the MRT/LRT rate hikes stand in stark contrast to its deafening silence on the controversial water rate hikes sought by Metro Manila’s two private water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water. From the time the dispute between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the two water companies erupted in September 2013, Malacanang has sought to distance itself from the issue by relentlessly refusing to take up the cudgels for ordinary water consumers.
When the MWSS-Regulatory Office, which is mandated to recommend appropriate levels of water tariffs, ordered rate cuts, rather than getting support from the President, all it got was a veiled rebuke. Clearly, as far as this government goes, the water companies are untouchable thanks to the Concession Agreements which privatized water services. As a result, Maynilad and Manila are free to siphon off as much profit from consumers as they dare. The people are on their own.
P-Noy administration also remains stubbornly wedded to its plan to seek emergency powers to address a supposed looming power crisis despite the failure of his subalterns to prove an imminent power shortage. During a November 18 hearing the House of Representatives in fact, Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla’s attempts at improvising his presentation only managed to show evidence of an “imminent shortage” in reserves, rather than the more critical base load or peak capacity. Despite this, P-Noy’s allies in the Lower House railroaded the Joint Resolution 21, in just one Committee hearing.
A government that fails to perceive the depths of its people’s desperation is one that is completely out of tune with the pulse of the nation. A government that consistently ignores the people’s clamor for relief deserve the people’s anger. A government that arrogantly pursues policies that, whether by hard-hearted actions or complicit silence, harms its people, sows the wind. And it will certainly reap the whirlwind.
In the coming days FDC will lead a series of coordinated protests to push back against these recent impositions on our already struggling population. We ask all for support in rolling back this tide of regressive polices. It is time to fight back. Palag na!