Casiño: Oppose privatization of water districts

CEBU CITY – Party-list Rep. and Makabayan senate bet Teddy Casiño today called for a powerful campaign to oppose the looming privatization of water districts in the country at the Central Visayas water summit at the Rajah Park Hotel this city.

“It is imperative for people’s organizations and local government units in the provinces to unite and counter the persistent efforts to ‘corporatize’ and ‘privatize’ water districts (WD) that will affect some 30,000 WD employees and would burden consumers with higher water service rates,” Casiño said.

Themed Responding to the Dire Need for Potable Water among Farming Communities:  The Feasibility of PO-Managed Water Systems in the Rural Areas, the Central Visayas water summit was attended by various peoples and non-government organizations and government officials led by Cebu City mayoralty candidate and Rep. Tomas Osmeña and Trinidad, Bohol Mayor Roberto Cajes.

“The national government knows full well that 30 percent of the poorest Filipino families do not have access to potable water – that is 16 million Filipinos according to the Millennium Development Goals report for 2010. Yet the policy response is to privatize water systems. In the past 15 years of the privatized water system in Metro Manila for example, basic charges for Maynilad were hiked by 564 percent while that Manila Water rose by 1,083 percent.  We therefore should prevent the privatization of water districts since it is government’s responsibility to ensure that the basic needs for people’s survival and livelihood are met,” Casiño said.

Casiño also mentioned pending legislation in the 15th Congress that will make water district privatization the norm:

Ø  Senate Bill 2997, Water Sector Reform Bill by Senator Edgardo Angara states that ‘water is a human right but also an economic good and that water districts must be more friendly to private investors.’

Ø  House Bill 5497, Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles that is the lower house counterpart of SB 2997.

“These bills also aim to create a ‘water superbody that will administer the country’s water systems.’ In fact the bills mandate the smooth process of passing the 600 water districts nationwide to private interests. The experience in Metro Manila shows that privatizing water services is not good for the people. At the onset of the privatization in 1997, the Maynilad water rate was only P7.21 per cubic meter, while Manila Water was only P4.02 per cubic meter. At present, the basic water cost for Maynilad is P47.83 per cubic meter, while Manila Water charges P36.42 per cubic meter. This is why we support the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) that also opposes the bills on privatization,” Casiño said.

The Central Visayas water summit is organized by the Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC), Community Empowerment Resource Network (CERNET), Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Visayas Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD), Sibol ng Bagong Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), Panaghugpong sa mga Gagmayng Bayanihang Grupo sa Oriental Negros (PAGBAG-O) and the Tuburan for Rural Women Empowerment (TUBURAN).

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