28 February 2005
The government’s treacherous habit of coddling private corporations has reached dangerous proportions in Metro Manila’s water distribution system. Not only has it faltered in collecting billions of pesos of Maynilad’s debts, it has even awarded the inefficient and mismanaged water company an extra income of P3 billion from the P10.27 increase per-cubic-meter (m3)-of-water in its base rate.
Maynilad’s recent rate hike, its seventh in a period of only seven years, makes its latest caper 500 percent higher than its 1997 tariff of P4.96/m3. But woe unto West Zone residents, for Maynilad intends—as per its revised rehabilitation plan—to delay attainment of its service targets by at least four more years.
In effect, the government through the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) allows the Lopez-owned company to profit more but without any significant improvement in its performance. This means consumers west of Metro Manila will again be forced to endure unreliable quality of water intermittently supplied at lower pressure, which could add more cities and municipalities in the cholera and gastroenteritis outbreak list. Those anticipating piped-water connection will have to keep their costly relations with enterprising small-scale independent water providers or bulk-water sellers.
Where the government derives the reason to bail out the erring company from its self-created financial ruin just to cover up the failure of its water privatization policy remains a mystery. Saving Maynilad has long lost its purpose. The company’s sheer negligence of its duty to provide decent water and sanitation services to the public and its shameless avoidance of paying concession fees provide glaring proof that profit-driven management of the water distribution system is irreconcilable with public interest.
We, from the Freedom from Debt Coalition, oppose the GMA administration’s continued betrayal of the public! We demand that MWSS withdraw from Maynilad’s rehabilitation case and that the unjust water rate increase must be stopped, rolled back and refunded to consumers!
FDC says NO to the rehabilitation and bailout of the bankrupt and mismanaged Maynilad. We call for a genuine public takeover of the West zone water concession now!