Members of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Progresibong Alyansa ng Tagatangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK) brought holiday gift packages and Christmas lanterns as symbols of their protest against Manila Water Company Inc.’s proposal to increase rates by P14/cu. m. starting January 1, 2008.

“This has always been the concessionaires’ gift to us – business driven interests, thus leading to unabated rate increases. Their ambitious service projections, and other contentious areas within their rate proposal, should not be passed on to consumers, regardless of the holiday season,” said FDC campaigner Obet Belandres.

On December 4, 2007, FDC submitted a nine-page position paper to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Services- Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO), stressing that the proposed rate hike is unjust and should not be imposed upon the consumers of the Metro Manila East Zone.

MWCI is currently exercising a rate rebasing which aims to review past and future expenditures and adjust water rates. This is pursuant to the Concession Agreement signed by the government and the private companies that won the bid for the East and West Zone concession—MWCI and Maynilad Water Services Inc, respectively.

The groups stressed that water, next to air, is vital for human survival and therefore, access to water is one of the most basic human rights. “It is injustice to the people to be deprived of this right because of high rate as a consequence of the full cost recovery mechanism that private water concessionaires seek and that the MWSS-RO allows,” they added.

“Aside from questionable service projections in their rate increase proposal, Manila Water has always been maximizing ways and mechanisms to profit from their service area, East Zone. One of these is the income tax holiday that they acquired until the year 2006, not to mention other collecting mechanisms such as the Extra-ordinary Price Adjustment (EPA) and Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA),” Belandres said.

FDC has vowed to continue exposing and opposing any means 0f the concessionaires to pass on unjust water rate increases to consumers and violations on the human right to water in the upcoming days, putting emphasis on popular education to expose the concessionaires’ profit-driven actions. ###

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