Below is the statement prepared by the Freedom from Debt Coalition in reaction to the outcome of the hearing conducted by the House Committee on Natural Resources last August 13 and in response to the joint position paper prepared by the MWSS, Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. Said committee hearing was conducted to deliberate on the privilege speech of Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel re: Human Right to Water.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition challenges the statements forwarded last Wednesday by MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad to the House Committee on Natural Resources which claimed that the MWSS privatization “clearly” resulted in more gains for the public, “all at no additional cost to the government.”

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Position Paper presented to the Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives, 14th Congress

Freedom from Debt Coalition
August 13, 2008

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) urges the honorable members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources to conduct a thorough review and investigation of the Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) privatization, believing firmly that for the past ten years, impacts of the said privatization thus far run counter to the aims set forth in RA 8041 to “address the nationwide water crisis which adversely affects the health and well-being of the population, food production and industrialization process” and in turn defeats the people’s right to water.

FDC’s call for a thorough review and investigation of the MWSS privatization is based on the following issues that must be examined:

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MANILA, Philippines--Leaders of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party and the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) today filed a motion for reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s decision on the petition to annul two Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) resolutions that violated existing laws and jurisprudence on public utilities.

The groups stressed that the two MWSS resolutions—Resolution No. 2004-201 of the MWSS Board of Trustees and Resolution No. 04-006-CA of MWSS Regulatory Office—resulted in:
  • The exemption of MWCI and MWSI from the 12 percent profit margin limitation under Section 12 of the MWSS Charter;
  • The passing on to unsuspecting consumers their corporate income taxes;
  • The refusal to extend their services to anyone within their jurisdiction; and,
  • The exemption, in effect, from the provisions expressed in Article XII, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution, which limits foreign ownership of public utilities to at most 40 percent.

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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.

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The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) today strongly urged the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Services- Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) to stop the P14 per cubic meter rate increase being proposed by the Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) beginning January 2008.

In a nine-page position paper signed by outgoing FDC president Ana Maria R. Nemenzo which was submitted to MWSS-RO and MWCI on Tuesday, the group said that the proposed rate hike is unjust and should not be imposed upon the consumers of the Metro Manila East Zone.

“Water, next to air, is vital for human survival. 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,” FDC said in its position paper.

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