ILOILO, Philippines - The Freedom from Debt Coalition chapter here has launched today a petition to protest the move to privatize the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) as proposed by the water district’s Board of Directors and supported by the newly-elected lone district Congressman Jerry P. Treñas.
 
FDC-Iloilo together with members of Katulong ng Bayan and the country’s labor party Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) held a picket in front of MIWD office along Bonifacio Drive in Iloilo City to ventilate their opposition stressing that “water is a human right” and stated its demand in Hiligaynon language that “Ang Tubig Serbisyo. Indi Negosyo.”
 
In the said petition, the group highlighted its arguments against the move, saying the privatization of the MIWD “violates people’s fundamental right to water, will result in ballooning water rates, lacks transparency, and is marred by patronage politics and political maneuverings.”
 
The petition highlighted a United Nations declaration “that access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right and essential to our right to life, right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to health and as confirmed by the UN Human Rights Council that governments have obligation to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human rights law.”
 
With that declaration at hand, FDC stood firm on the tenet that “water service must remain in people’s hand and must not be given to private entities or corporations.”
 
Moreover, the group also criticized the inadequate intervention of the Local Government of Iloilo City through the Sangguniang Panglungsod declaring “it did not exercise its powers and authority to look into the matter and institute immediate response” by calling for a thorough investigation into the controversy involving the officers and the Board of Directors which were appointed by Congressman Treñas during his term as Chief Executive.
 
Vophi Pendon, FDC’s deputy secretary-general underscored that “while we support the position of the employees and the officers of the management against the move of its Board of Directors to privatize MIWD, we are convinced that they must also be subjected to investigation in order to comprehensively address issues regarding conflict of interest and management’s financial irregularities.”
 
The group also hit the political maneuverings instigated by Ilonggo politicians like Senator Franklin Drilon, Congressman Trenas, and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to push its privatization agenda of the water district in spite the opposition of the Ilonggos and even without the consent of the consumers.
 
“This only reveals that the privatization of MIWD is a deliberate move of Iloilo City’s top politicians, and that the reason why they permitted the water supply problem of Iloilo City to deteriorate is to give room for private players,” said Ted Aldwin Ong, secretary-general of FDC.
 
This prompted the groups to demand that the “Iloilo City Government take action by putting a stop to the privatization of MIWD and instead immediately initiate a thorough investigation of the controversy through the Iloilo City Council.”
 
The groups vowed to circulate the petition paper to the different sectors of society, organizations, the citizens, and water consumers in order to gather its support, and to submit the paper to the Chief Executive, the Vice-Mayor, and the Committee on Public Utilities of the Sangguniang Panglungsod for a public hearing. (30)



Freedom from Debt Coalition – Iloilo Chapter
Address: 185 Jereos St., La Paz District, Iloilo City 5000, Philippines          
Phone: +63.33.508.20.28
Email: fdc.iloilochapter@yahoo.com
Contact persons:  
Ted Aldwin E. Ong, secretary-general, +63.919.930.89.08
Vophi E. Pendon, deputy secretary-general, +63.905.616.05.12

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