Holding up cut-outs of oversized dentures, members of the consumer group Pagkakaisa ng mga Tagapagtangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK) and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) converged at the offices of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage (MWSS) to dramatize their call for government to take back control of water services from private water companies.

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PATTAK and FDC issued the call as water bills are set to go up yet again following the International Chamber of Commerce-led arbitration ruling in favor of Maynilad earlier this month.

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The Freedom from Debt Coalition and the water consumers group Pagkakaisa ng mga Tagapagtangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK), today slammed the recently announced ruling of an arbitration panel which grants Maynilad the right to hike its water rates for Metro Manila’s West Zone saying it sends the message that corporations can do whatever they please in the country.

When Metro Manila’s water services were privatized in 1997, the service area was divided into two geographically separate zones–the West zone which includes old Manila and the province of Cavite which was awarded to Maynilad and the East zone which includes much of the Makati business district and expanding suburbs, which was awarded to Manila Water.

“The decision legitimizes abuses committed by the water companies, such as passing on their corporate income taxes to consumers, which were a major basis for the MWSS’ decision last year to order water rate cuts and which are currently the subject of a legislative investigation. It tells other would-be investors that in the Philippines, you can rob the people blind and get rewarded for it!” Samuel Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General said.

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Instead of reviving the monstrous Laiban Dam project, the government should consider the following options: first, the promotion of water conservation instead of projecting increased water consumption; second, the continuation of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction or water loss of the two MWSS concessionaires, namely Maynilad and Manila Water; and, third, a comprehensive exploration of small-scale surface water development projects.

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The Freedom from Debt Coalition responds to the editorial of Philippine Daily Inquirer, entitled “Unnecessary delays” (11/13/12), which criticized FDC and its co-petitioners for asking the Supreme Court to reconsider the sale of the Angat hydroelectric power plant (Ahepp) to a foreign-owned corporation Korea Water (K-Water). This Op-Ed piece was published by the Inquirer in its 27 November 2012 issue.

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Various cause-oriented groups, led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition, urged the Supreme Court to reverse its 09 October 2012 ruling on the sale of 246-megawatt Angat hydroelectric power plant (HEPP) by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-Water).

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