Metro Manila – Labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) reminded President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday that his ally, former Senate President and 2nd richest Filipino Manny Villar, is also an “oligarch”, saying that transferring the water concessions for Manila Water and and Maynilad to VIllar-owned PrimeWater “merely replicates the mistake” of former President Fidel Ramos.
“We have already seen what billionaire ownership can do to a public utility. If Duterte is serious about fighting oligarchs, then he should not enable new ones, like what Ramos did. We say no to PrimeWater takeover,” said BMP chairperson Leody de Guzman.
De Guzman added that PrimeWater is “notorious” for “poor service” and “contractual hiring”, especially in Camarines Norte and Dasmariñas Cavite. He noted that residents from the water districts in Bulacan, Batangas and elsewhere have made vocal their resistance to PrimeWater’s widening operations.
“Duterte said that he is cancelling Maynilad and Manila Water’s franchise due problematic water delivery. He has also promised to end contractualization during his term. It would be the height of hypocrisy if PrimeWater, which has a reputation for both, ends up gobbling the water utilities,” he said.
The group added that Malacanang should dig deeper besides pointing to the lopsided concession agreement that favored private corporations.
“The faulty concession agreement is only an off-shoot of the disastrous neo-liberal privatization schemes the government initiated in the 1990s. Its high time for the government to admit that the scheme has forsaken the consuming public,” BMP said.
BMP bats instead for a “consumer-owned Metro Manila Water Cooperative”, saying that more investments can be made for the benefit of consumer under a cooperative setup.
“Maynilad and Manila Water, for instance, insist on dam-centric solutions because it will generate them more profit. If the orientation of the water utility is service rather than profit, then there is no stopping it from investing in more sustainable solutions like solar-powered desalination plants, rainwater catchment, and microdams,” said the labor leader.
He cites a number of “working models” around the world, including but not limited to Aguas Bonaerenses Sociedad Anónima (ABSA) – a worker-controlled water utility in Buenos Aires, Argentina praised UN as a model water company, the Saguapac Cooperative in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and the Wassergenossenschaft Gramastetten (Water Cooperative of Gramastetten) in Austria.
“Cooperatives, unencumbered by the profit motive and given appropriate incentives and subsidies, can perform better than corporations,” De Guzman added.
De Guzman said that the first “order of business” is to protect rural water service associations (RWSAs), barangay water service associations (BWSAs) or village-level water systems from privatization, so “they won’t end up like the failed service areas of Maynilad, Manila Water, and PrimeWater.”-30-
Reference: Leody de Guzman 0920 5200672
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