More than half of the 85 million Filipino population lack individual household connection to piped water services and Arroyo’s water privatization policy will not solve this problem.

This was the startling disclosure made by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Progresibong Alyansa ng Tagatangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK) to MRT passengers today as they unfurled posters depicting the sorry plight of Filipinos without sufficient and safe water to drink.

“Just here in Metro Manila, two million households are yet to be connected to the piped water grid and are forced to buy from costly bulk-water suppliers, truckers or small-scale vendors,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, FDC president.

“Water is the most basic of all human rights and it’s distressing how the government refuses to honor its obligation to protect, fulfill and respect this right. Instead, it passes on to private business corporations its responsibility, thus, water becomes a mere market commodity,” added Nemenzo.

In 1997, during the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the government and the private water providers Maynilad and Manila Water promised to give universal water access by 2006 to the more than 12 million Metro Manila population.

“It’s now mid-2006, but what have they given us so far? Cholera outbreak, intermittent water supply, and more than 700 percent rate increase in the East Zone while West Zone prices are higher by almost 600 percent,” declared Nora Protacio, PATTAK spokesperson.

According to the group, the same problems are confronted by communities outside Metro Manila, such as Subic, Olongapo and Laguna. The protesters stressed that the Arroyo administration violates the Filipinos’ human right to water with the continuous implementation of its privatization program wherein only those who can afford the cost of services can enjoy the life-giving benefits of water.

“Water is life. Water is for all. We will persist with our protest actions and information drive as long as the government’s skewed policy remains,” Nemenzo proclaimed.

The group’s silent unfolding of posters inside MRT trains is one of many activities leading up to the launching of the Blue Drop campaign on June 24, 2006.

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