ILOILO, Philippines – Water consumers must be vigilant over the looming privatization of the city’s water services, according to the local chapter of the Freedom from Debt Coalition here today.

After revealing that a meeting took place early June among Iloilo City officials, Metro Iloilo Water District officials and representatives from the World Bank to discuss the matter, FDC suspected that the privatization is already a “done deal.”

 According to its reliable source, FDC said that those Iloilo City officials who were in the meeting include Rep. Jerry Treñas, City Mayor Jed Mabilog and MIWD Chair Celso Javelosa. Also present in the said meeting was Senator Franklin Drilon.

It can be recalled that it is World Bank’ s International Finance Corporation and its consultants Castalia Advisory Group who embarked on the study to privatize MIWD.
 
“The Ilonggo public who are vehemently opposed of the move to privatize the water district seem unaware of the political maneuverings being undertaken by their newly elected officials for the purpose of pushing its privatization agenda,” FDC-Iloilo said.
 
“This could partly explain why Mayor Trenas was fuming in anger when the local media sought his opinion on the current conflict besetting MIWD’s board of directors who are Treñas appointees led by Mr. Celso Javelosa and the management and employees of the water district led by its general manager Le Jayme Jalbuena,” the group said.
 
“The privatization deal could also be the reason why both Treñas and Mabilog did not act aggressively in solving the water problem of the city even after the Typhoon Frank in 2008. Moreover, its reluctance to call for a comprehensive investigation of the issues confronting the water district also adds to the suspicion that after all this is a done deal,” said FDC.  
 
The group also shared that “the letter of the MIWD Board of Directors appealing to the City Council to declare Iloilo City under a ‘state of emergency’ because of water shortage is no less a tactic aimed to short cut the tedious legal procedures and set the stage for the convenient entry of its private sector friends who are interested to engage in the bulk water business.”
 
The group called on the incoming members of the Iloilo City Council to put water problem as its number one agenda by assembling an investigating committee to look into the problems of MIWD and in order to make people accountable including the city’s incoming and outgoing chief executives in light of the consistent support that they express for the privatization of the water district.
 
“The Ilonggo water consumers must be vigilant in asserting that water is a human right, as such; MIWD must not be handed over to the few private individuals who are for windfall profits and not for public service, demanded by FDC.” (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:  Ted Aldwin E. Ong, secretary-general, +63.919.930.89.08

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