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.

We, from the Freedom from Debt Coalition, strongly reiterate our position for the termination, not rehabilitation, of Maynilad. The bankrupt company's steep rate inrease-from P19.92 to P26.98 rate per cubic meter of water-will further burden the public already neckdeep in the quicksand of the current fiscal crisis. Further, water rates are determined according to performance of service obligations, not as a means to bailout a major election supporter or to preserve an ailing water privatization policy. The public should not be made to pay for Maynilad's inefficiency and mismanagement!

Ironically, the MWSS/GMA administration has not even resolved the issue of

Maynilad's overcharging due to the company's over-recovery of its supposed foreign exchange losses through the Foreign Currency Differential Adjustment (FCDA, amounting to P4.07/m3) and the Accelerated Extra-ordinary Price Adjustment (AEPA, amounting to P4.21/m3). Maynilad already enjoyed over-collections of more than P2 billion pesos due to the FCDA and AEPA alone and the government has not lifted a finger!

As regards Manila Water, FDC denounces the MWSS/GMA administration's approval of the company's P2.18/m3 rate increase in the middle of unresolved issues on the company's high profit rate. Based on the Commission on Audit's (COA) report, in 1999 Manila Water made a 40.92% turnover on its investments. This means the East Zone concessionaire's earnings for 1999 alone was 28.92% higher than the 12% allowed by law! In pesos this excess profit translates to about P281 million!

For FDC, the looming increases in water rates will be a clear reflection of the government's incompetence in protecting the right of the people to clean, safe and affordable water. When will the people be freed from the scourge of profit-hungry water corporations?

This onslaught on water consumers must be stopped now!

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