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Water Group to MWSS: Publicize Concession Agreements and Audit of Concessionaires

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pr3MANILA, PHILIPPINES—With the threat of water bill increases from both Maynilad and Manila Water by July of this year, a coalition of anti-water privatization advocates is demanding the immediate disclosure of the financial audit performed by the Commission on Audit (CoA) on both concessionaires.

According to the Water Watch coalition, which groups together various peoples organizations, NGOs, church and human rights organizations opposing the commodification of water, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) regulators should also divulge the details of the concession agreements entered into with Maynilad and Manila Water.

The group has been asserting that the public has the right to be informed about the details of the agreements including the concessionaires’ obligations as well as the guidelines for setting rates.

“As urban poor residents, we suffer from blatant discrimination by the concessionaires. Unlike other segments of society, we often don’t get water piped all the way to our homes. Part of the concessionaires’ obligations is to provide 100 percent connection. But until now, over a decade after privatization, many urban poor households remain unconnected. The concessionaires obviously do not see us as worth the investment,” Ka Erning Ofracio of the urban poor organization AKTIB, said.

“The people want to know why they have to shoulder expenses they do not benefit from; they want to understand what they are actually paying for. What are the efficiency incentives that we are charged with? What exactly makes our bill unreasonably high?” said Arze Glipo, convenor of Water Watch Coalition.

From June 11 to 14 Maynilad and Manila Water will conduct a series of public consultations on the impending increase in water rates which are expected to take effect next month. Manila Water is proposing a P5.38/ cubic meter rate adjustment while Maynilad is asking for P10.30.

“The call for full disclosure of the CoA audit is all the more urgent given the plans to implement further hikes in the water rates. Does the audit support the need for rate increases? Has the MWSS Regulatory Office determined substantial compliance by the concessionaires? Or have they failed to deliver on their obligations? What is basis to reward them with another round of rate increases,” Glipo said.

“We are not just talking about an ordinary business negotiation here. This has implications on the peoples basic human right to water. It is about time the government reconsider its policy track of water privatization because our experience with Maynilad and Manila Water has been a dismal failure. It is our contention that privatization, where water is viewed as a commodity, is incompatible with upholding water as a human right,”Glipo added.

Water Watch Coalition
Integrated Rural Development Foundation

Anabelle Vitacion (09053921655)                                   
Arze Glipo (09178576203)


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