22 November 2003
Five died and hundreds others were downed by a cholera outbreak. Many other were hit by diarrhea and other gastro-intestnal diseases. Who is to blame? Raffy Alunan points the accusing finger at the residents themselves, who he says steal water, use booster pumpsand lives in areas where there is poor sanitation and civics.
In press releases and letters to the editor, the Maynilad President spoke of the “basic precepts of truth, justice and civility.” Yet he never mentioned that Maynilad failed in its duty to maintain water pressure in their pipelines in the area, which should have prevented ingress of contaminated water. They failed to point out that they obligated themselves to rehabilitating the West Zone’s water systems but failed to put in not even half of their promised investments.
It seems Maynilad is ready to point an accusing finger at anyone, refusing to see that if they are serious in solving the contamination issue, they should realize that they are part of the blame.
FDC puts the blame on Maynilad because they are responsible to the people for failing to put in the money they promised to invest. They are accountable for keeping a minimum water pressure. They are accountable for any dirty water seeping into their pipelines finding thir way to the drinking glasses of West Zone residents. They run the West Zone. They are responsible for ensuring that only clean water flows out of their pipes.
What is to be misread in the potability water testing conducted by the UP NSRI, as requested by the FDC? The results of the test are simple enough: the sample from barangay Longos contained more than 16 coliform bacteria per 100ml of water while the Philippine standard is 2.2 coliform bacteria per 100ml. If indeed water is dirty, Maynilad should take responsibility. It is in the business of providing clean water to residents. If dirty water comes out of their pipes, THEY are responsible.
As early as last year, Maynilad engineers were aware that the pipes in the Malabon area needs rehabilitation. Why was no rehabilitation undertaken?
Residents of Barangay Longos in Malabon have long been complaining of Maynilad’s dirty water. They report that only when media took up the water issue did Maynilad started conducting repairs in their area. It comes as no surprise then that new tests would show that water in Longos is up to standard.
Maynilad has benefited from six rates increases since they took over the West Zone. They have not paid government almost PhP7Billion in concession fees. Yet, they failed to put in not even 40% of the amount they promised.
Maynilad has failed to deliver the promises it made to the residents of the West Zone. They have announced that these promises will not be coming anytime soon because Maynilad just placed itself under the protection of the Courts by going into receivership. This means no substantial investments in the West Zone is forthcoming in the next couple of years. When another epidemic breaks out, will the residents be blamed again?
While we hope the outbreak in Tondo will be the last, with Maynilad still at the helm of the West Zone, we are afraid it is not.
Government immediately booting Maynilad out of the West Zone will be a good first start in ensuring that the tragedy will not happen again.