ILOILO CITY - The Freedom from Debt Coalition chapter here has called the attention of newly-elected Vice-Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to examine his stand on the move of Mayor Jerry Treñas and the City Government to privatize Metro Iloilo Water District.
 
The group said "we were stupefied on the stand of Vice-Mayor Mabilog on the issue of MIWD privatization after we heard him in an interview over the television depicting that it will result in the lowering of water rates, clean water and will improve the delivery of services just like in Metro Manila."
 
FDC asserted that "the honorable Vice-Mayor is definitely uninformed of the real situation subjecting consumers following the privatization of water utilities in Metro Manila."
 
According to the group, "the performance of the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila, the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System and Maynilad, is far from satisfactory in the three areas mentioned by Mabilog, namely: lower rates, clean water, efficient service."   
 
"The Vice-Mayor's claim on water rates alone could mislead the Ilonggo water consumers into believing that it will result into lower rates." said FDC
 
Since its privatization in 1995, FDC data reveals that Maynilad, who covers the West Zone, have its rates increased by 500 percent from P4.97 per cubic meter in 1997 to P30.19 per cubic meter in January 2005.
 
The same data reveal that Manila Water, who covers the West Zone, has its rates increased by 768.53 percent, starting from P2.32 per cubic meter in 1997 to P17.83 per cubic meter in 2005.
 
On the issue of clean water, FDC "urge local politicians to take a glimpse of reports in Metro Manila, especially this rainy season, in order for them to realize how water utilities have failed in ensuring the delivery of clean water to its consumers."
 
"We put forwards this question to Vice-Mayor Mabilog - if these utilities were faithful on their promise of clean water, then how come there is dramatic increase of waterborne diseases including cholera and dysentery? In fact, the previously reported deaths in Tondo and nearby areas of Metro Manila were results of unsanitary water delivered by Maynilad, averred Ted Aldwin Ong, FDC's secretary-general.   
 
Ong also stressed "that privatization will result to the efficient delivery of service is a claim which has been debunked a million times over. It will not require one to scrutinize Maynilad or Manila Water, all it takes is for Vice-Mayor Mabilog to take a look on the quality of service of the company he is most familiar of - the Panay Electric Company, a privately-owned public utility, which is notorious for its being most inefficient in terms of service."
 
The group asked, what makes the concept of MIWD privatization really different from the rest of the world? Nothing! It will not result to improved quality of service, clean water or lower rates.
 
Instead of pushing for its privatization, FDC would like to encourage the City Council, most especially Vice-Mayor Mabilog, to examine its stand and instead investigate the state of finances of MIWD and hold the people in its management accountable on the financial irregularities hounding the water utility since 2002 and even beyond.
 
"If this is how MIWD is being operated at the present, we are not hopeful that it will change under the privatized set-up. To rush its privatization is to bury the irregularities perpetuated by its current management leaving them free of its responsibilities to the consumers," concluded the group in a statement. ###

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