Enough with the blabber
Scrap the concession agreements and nationalize water distribution in Metro Manila – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – Almost a week after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to file economic sabotage charges against the Maynilad and Manila Water, members of Anakpawis Party-list protested in front of the Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System (MWSS) office in Quezon City to demand the scrapping of the onerous concession agreements and nationalize the water distribution in Metro Manila for the benefit of at least 15 million subscriber households.
“Duterte is all air. He’s now on a blabbering spree of threatening the water concessionaires with plunder charges as reaction to the arbitration ruling favoring Manila Water and Maynilad. But recently, his presidential mouthpiece is backtracking that the rants were only for renegotiation, not for outright revocation of the concession agreements,” former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said in a press statement.
The case at the Singapore-based tribunal of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was regarding to the government’s rejection of the proposed water rate hikes in 2015. It ordered the government to indemnify Manila Water with P7.4 billion and Maynilad with P3.6 billion, for their claimed losses.
“The profit-hungry concessionaires owned by the country’s oligarchs claimed losses due to rejected water rate hike, as if they have diligently served its subscribers, when only recently this year, was the mass misery of millions of Manila Water customers and continued interruptions of water services,” Casilao said.
He said that the water crisis is fundamentally caused by the privatization policy via the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework, where profit is the primary interest of the water concessionaires and not public interest. He also warned the government against favoring the Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. owned by another “Forbes Richest” former senator Manny Villar.
“It is like replacing profit-hungry monsters with another profit-hungry monster. Prime Water this period is bullish, taking over water districts all over the country, obviously because it is allied with Duterte,” the former lawmaker revealed.
Of the 100 water districts across the country planned and 73 already privatized, 63 were with a 25-year joint venture concession-type partnership with Prime Water. Duterte praised Prime Water when he threatened the MWSS concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad. Water subscribers of Prime Water from Marilao, Bulacan, Tayabas, Quezon, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental and Zamboanga City are complaining about high water rates and service interruptions.
Finally, Casilao asserted that the water crisis could only be resolved by nationalizing the water distribution operations of the MWSS.
“At present, peoples of the world are now remunicipalizing water districts, and this is a global trend that neoliberal bureaucrats are trying to hide,” he said.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (UN SDG 6) is Clean Water and Sanitation, and various conferences involving many countries, have already declared that “privatization of water and sanitation has been detrimental, especially to the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in the world.” The Human Right to Water and Sanitation has been recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010.
More than 235 cities from 37 countries have remunicipalized their water utilities that benefited more than 100 million people.
“This 2019 Human Rights Day, we join the various sectors under the Water for the People Network in upholding the Filipino people’s Right to Water, and in their call for a publicly controlled, transparent and reformed water utility. The MWSS concession agreements must be scrapped immediately to uphold public welfare and rid away of parasitic profit-interests of the private sector,” he ended. ###