(Right to water) SIGN-ON STATEMENT: Respond to the real challenge, uphold the right to water

Photo by FDC

Dear Friends,

Pasted below is a sign-on statement for the 18th World Water Day celebration this Tuesday, March 22. The statement delivers a very simple message urging Pnoy and his administration to face the real challenge and
uphold the human right to water in the Philippines. This call comes in the wake of our state’s failure to support a UN General Assembly resolution
affirming the right to water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. The Philippines’ failure to support the said resolution not only sends out an ambiguous message with respect to our state’s recognition of the human right to water, but also threatens to undermine the progress that we have made thus far in promoting and defending the right to water. It is thus imperative that we defend and reclaim the gains we have made in this arena.

We are thus calling for your support. Please pass the statement along to
your networks, friends, and colleagues. Statements of support or sign-on
details may be communicated by e-mail to diannefdc@yahoo.com. You may also
reach FDC at 924-6399 and 921-1985, or send me a message at 09209077152.

We would also like to invite all interested friends and colleagues to join
us in our World Water Day action this coming Tuesday, March 22. The WWD
action will be undertaken at the Welcome Rotonda, assembly time is 9:30
am. We are also urging all friends who will be joining us as well as those
who cannot to please wear blue as a sign of solidarity for our call. For
more details regarding the WWD action, you may also contact me through the
mobile number listed above.

In solidarity,
Dianne Roa – Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
—————————————————————————-

SIGN-ON STATEMENT

Respond to the real challenge, uphold the right to water

We, the undersigned concerned citizens and organizations from different
regions and cities all over the Philippines, come together on the occasion
of the 18th World Water Day to defend the right to water of our people
from the acts and mechanisms that continue to threaten its recognition and
enforcement.

In 1992, the United Nations set aside this day, March 22, as an annual day
of celebration and activism to advance the conservation of the globe’s
water resources. Where before we thought our waters to be infinite, now we
know better. Rivers and lakes are dying. Springs and wells have dried up.
And saltwater is intruding into our ground aquifers. In our country alone,
50 of our 421 rivers have already been declared biologically dead. There
is a pressing need to conserve and protect our freshwater resources, and
that need is further multiplied by the impacts of climate change.

We believe that, as the urgency to protect our watersheds and freshwater
resources continues to intensify, so does the need for us to rationalize
our use of these resources. There are more uses for freshwater resources
that are now competing against one another. These different uses must be
scrutinized and weighed against each other when we try to determine the
steps that we must take to spare our freshwater resources from the
over-consumption that drove us to the global climate crisis we are now
facing. Most importantly, now is a more urgent time than before to ensure
that competition for our water resources does not translate into the
deprivation of any man, woman or child of the water that they require for
an adequate standard of living.

We believe that recognition of the human right to water must stand at the
heart and center of any framework or road map that seeks to guide the
protection, conservation and use of our water resources. In the face of
the challenges that beset our freshwater resources, the availability,
accessibility, and quality of drinking water must be ensured for every
person. Safe drinking water must be ensured as a matter of right for both
present and future generations, and this can only be achieved through the
sustainable and equitable use of our water resources.

We regret the fact that our government has not been as vocal or clear in
its recognition of the human right to water.It did not, for instance,
support the monumental resolution passed by the UN General Assembly last
July which recognized the human right to water as a human right that is
essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. This,
despite the fact that our state is a signatory to the International
Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, and other similar treaties.  Existing initiatives
towards the promotion and protection of the human right to water,
including our commitment to the Millenium Development Goals, are
threatened to be undermined by this development.

We are further alarmed by the state of water supply provision in the
country. Between 1990 to 2006, the percentage of Filipinos with access to
improved water sources decreased from 87% to 81%. A total of 432
communities have been listed as waterless, with less than 50% of the
households having access to safe potable water supply. Incidences of
arbitrary disconnections, refused connections, and forced payment for
unexplained exponential increases in water consumption continue to persist
in the absence of any available recourse for water users seeking
protection and enforcement of their right to water.

We thus urge President Aquino to take on a clear position on this matter
and uphold the human right to water. We urge President Aquino to do what
his representative to the UN failed to do. We urge him to unequivocally
declare our state’s recognition of this right and to take the lead in
ensuring that every step we take towards water preservation and water
supply provision is built around the human right to water and the
principles of environmental sustainability.

This administration must step up to the challenge and uphold the human
right to water.

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