ILOILO City – The word war between Iloilo City Mayor Joe Espinosa III and the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) is nothing but a smokescreen to an even larger issue of privatizing the sole water district in the metro, said the local consumer’s group.
Panay Consumer’s Alliance (PCA) in a picket held at the Iloilo City Hall today, lambasted anew the plan of the MIWD to privatize the water district.
“Water is a basic human right. And it is the government’s duty to ensure the delivery of accessible, affordable and safe potable water to the people,” said PCA spokesperson Lucy Francisco.
“The rift between the city mayor and the MIWD does not translate to a betterment of the water service. Instead, both are geared towards its total privatization, which is a burden to the people.”
The MIWD has recently awarded to Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), a company owned by Manuel V. Pangilinan, the P12.35-billion project that will totally privatize the water district.
The MPIC will now be in-charge of the rehabilitation of MIWD infrastructures including the management of its water pumping station in Sta. Barbara, and the operation up to the distribution processes of MIWD.
“This is what total privatization looks like. Supply, transmission, distribution and even the management of MIWD now solely relies with a private company which in return shall profit from this scheme whereas the people will suffer ultimately,” Francisco said.
Case in point according to Francisco is the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) which resulted to an increase in water rates of 357.6% for Maynilad while 414.4% for Manila Water in just a span of 10 years from August 1997 to January 2007.
“There is no truth that services run by private companies are better than those government-run. The Panay Electric Company (PECO) is a glaring example to that,” said Francisco.
“Worse, these private companies are only gaining up so much profit while the consumers suffer from its incompetence.”
PECO has recently been involved with its dubious rate hikes imposed to Metro Iloilo consumers amounting to hundreds of thousands and even millions.
“And there is no truth also that the government cannot provide for its people. If so, it is not the government of the people but only of those in power and their interests.”
The government, Francisco said, could allocate budget coming from the pork-barrel of Congressmen and Senators.
“The corruption issue within the MIWD is caused by the systemic problem of corruption within the bureaucracy and the protection and tolerance of their patrons in politics,” said Francisco.
The group demanded that government take-over should be the key to improve MIWD services and functions.
PCA also calls for transparency and for MIWD to make available for public scrutiny all its contracts between private corporations.
“In the end, the government should be held accountable for its failure to provide one of the basic human right, that is water,” Francisco ended. (panaytoday.net)