The widespread protests against power rate increase last November 10 is just the tip of the iceberg of bigger protests unless government heeds the people’s demands.

People from all walks of life –urban poor, women, youth, workers, religious, and even some local government officials – had shown on that day their readiness to unite, and together fight against the oppressive power rates increase. As these protests continue to snowball all over the country, the political repercussions for government inaction will be unthinkable.

Yet, Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo has just implicitly allowed another rates increase. On top of the Napocor’s P0.98/kWh average rate increase nationwide, consumers are again threatened with another burden, this time the P7 per cubic meter increase in water rates. Pres. Arroyo’s silence over the recent announcement by private water concessionaires – Maynilad and Manila Water – for water rates increase in 2005 is like giving consent to these companies.

Isn’t it enough that we have suffered seven years of skyrocketing water fees, inefficiency, mismanagement and millions of dollars of additional debt? Now we, the hapless water consumers, will soon be forced to shell out P7 more for every cubic meter of Maynilad water that we use.

Clearly, this signals Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s shameless patronage of the company that has, for seven long years, plagued Metro Manila’s water distribution utility. Instead of upholding public interest on the issue of Maynilad’s rehabilitation, GMA rewards the Lopez-owned company! This is tantamount to Malacañang’s endorsement of Maynilad’s rehabilitation plan, the approval of which is still pending at a Quezon City regional trial court.

The duplicity is glaring: while Pres. Arroyo asks the people to sacrifice by paying higher rates for power, water, and other basic goods and services, she has allowed the private companies – the independent power producers, power companies, the private water firms – to rake in profits and pass on their losses to the people.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition, ALTERNATIBA, and KURYENTE! Alliance cannot tolerate government’s inaction to people’s issues such as high power and water rates.

We warn this government, we warn Pres. Arroyo: continued indifference to the people’s plight will cost her more than mere street protests. The people’s tolerance may reach a breaking point as they are pushed further against the wall. This is what this government has been doing to the people.

If the government is unable to protect the people from unrelenting increases in power rates and other basic necessities, then this government no longer has the right to govern.

FDC, ALTERNATIBA, and KURYENTE! Alliance will continue bigger protest actions, and all that it would take for the government to address the people’s issues – rising prices of power, water, and other basic necessities.


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