ILOILO City – Urban poor mothers and members of Panay Consumers’ Alliance (PCA) picketed at the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) on Tuesday, February 27, lambasting the agency’s water rate increase by PHP4.10 without public consultation.
The water district recently sought the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to increase water rate to P20.00 per cubic meter from current P15.90 per cubic meter. A public hearing was held last February 23 according to MIWD.
In an interview, PCA spokesperson Lucy Francisco decried the agency’s inaction to heed their demands through a public consultation. “We have been holding pickets at the MIWD to stop its privatization scheme which will lead to inaccessible water service to the people of Iloilo.”
The group held several protest actions and lobbying efforts to denounce the government’s neglect on the most basic right of the people, water. But despite all these, the water district turned deaf and blind, Francisco exclaimed.
“This is a glaring violation of our right to be heard and denial of a basic service. The privatization of the water district, now that it is turned over to the Metro Pacific Water Investment Corporation (MWIC) is an example of the government abandoning its responsibility to the people,” she added.
The MIWD has entered into a joint-venture agreement with the MWIC, a company of Manuel V. Pangilinan turning over all responsibilities from rehabilitation, distribution and operation of the entire MIWD. It handed over its station in Sta. Barbara, completely privatizing the entire MIWD and water service.
According to Francisco, privatization schemes have led to deprivation of services for the people.
“After privatizing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1995, water rates drastically increased by 357.6% for Maynilad and 414.4% for Manila Water in a span of just ten years, between August 1997 and September 2007,” said Francisco citing the Water for the People Network.
The increase in water prices will aggravate further the impact of TRAIN Law, said Francisco.
“We are being fooled by Duterte that he is pro-poor. But ultimately, his policies such as the TRAIN Law and continued privatization programs have taken a toll on us and pushed us deeper into hunger and poverty.”
“The MIWD should make public all its transactions and undertakings with the MWIC and should put a stop to privatization,” Francisco exclaimed.
“Duterte should be held accountable for not prioritizing our public utilities such as water and power. These must be run by the government to ensure that these are accessible and affordable for the people.(panaytoday.net)