"It’s like adding insult to the heavily injured water industry", FDC commented on the recent water hike imposed by Manila Water, as 200 of its members picketed the Ayala-controlled concessionaire in the MWSS compound in Balara, Quezon City.

The price increased resulted from the MWSS Regulatory Office’s approval of Manila Water’s petition to apply the mechanism of the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) as a way of recovering exchange rate losses incurred by private concessionaire under the water privatization program of the government since 1997. FDC pointed out that this is the ninth time Manila Water has violated its promise to the consumers in the East Zone area of Metro Manila.

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The public has been conveniently excluded by the International Appeals Panel from taking part in the arbitration between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and Maynilad Water Services.

Ironically, the arbitration to determine who is at fault over the early termination of Maynilad’s concession contract greatly affects the public as the government will use taxpayers’ money to pay Maynilad’s 21 billion-peso claim, if MWSS prevaricates and loses the case.

It is the public who suffers from the dismal performance of the West Zone concessionaire and the ongoing monthly overcharges amounting to more than P400 million. And who will shoulder the burden of additional loans being made by the MWSS so that it can meet obligations dropped off by Maynilad?

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We, from the Freedom from Debt Coalition, strongly urge the MWSS Board of Trustees to stand firm in honoring its commitment to protect the interest of the Filipino people in the operations and management of the West Zone concession area.

Today, as Maynilad presents its new business plan, let us clearly remember that the concessionaire's six-year presence in the water sector has only shamed the government and its water privatization policy.

Maynilad has not delivered on its promises. Water rates are unjustifiably high. Non-revenue water exceeds that of the former publicly owned MWSS. Maynilad refuses to pay the government P5 billion in concession fees but still charges consumers the amounts that are supposed to cover the concession fees. It blames the government for the termination of its concession contract. Now it negotiates for another chance at running the West Zone?

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