Taguig’s poor call for decent water supply

Photo by: Janina Gacosta/ICAN – Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network


MANILA – In the almost three decades that she has been residing at the PNR FTI compound in Taguig City, Nelia (not her real name) has yet to have access to a piped water system into her own home. The irony, she said, is that their community sits at a stone’s throw away from a high-end estate, whose residents would never have to experience this.

“Until now, the water in our community remains commercialized and we have to either fetch water or have it delivered,” Nelia told Bulatlat in Filipino.

The streets leading to Nelia’s home and the rest of her neighbors would always be wet as several trucks with huge water tanks ply their narrow roads to carry and distribute water among residents. The trucks are then greeted by a long queue of water containers on every street.

Still, fetching water is part of their daily routine. A situation that should not have been the case.

In March 2023, the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported that 53 percent of households in the Philippines lack access to a safely managed water supply.

However, as articulated in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, equal access of the poor to basic services including water supply and sanitation is yet to be achieved.

“I always hear the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) that their mandate is to provide water supply in every house of the Filipinos but why is that marginalized community still lack access to safe drinking water, affordable water, and available water pipelines in every house,” Mimi Doringo, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) national secretary general, expressed in a statement.

Photo by: Janina Gacosta/ICAN – Inclusive Cities Advocacy Network

Expensive cost of water

According to KADAMAY, the approximate water consumption of one family in the compound is around P1,600 ($29). Several individuals who have meters made the submeter system their business with a cost of P160.00 ($3) per cubic meter for non-potable water. This causes additional expenses spent on potable water used by the residents for cooking or drinking.

Nelia used to have a piped water line to her home. However, their family decided to have it cut as they would spend almost P2,000 ($36) monthly and get nothing but air instead of water from their faucets. “I cannot get any water from it.”

The residents usually get water from the commercial water tanks delivered by the trucks in the community, each tank costs P1,500 ($27). Individuals can buy water from the tanks for about P9 or P10 ($0.18) per gallon.

Meanwhile, Nelia would buy water in the deep well water station as it is 50-percent cheaper per gallon. “That P9.00 is too expensive for a gallon. Whenever we take a bath, we need one or two gallons,” she said.

Water membership is unaffordable

Residents are calling for an affordable water membership fee.

A water provider requires the residents to pay a membership fee of P14,000 ($252) for their water service connection and an installation fee that costs P6,000 ($108).

Janina Gacosta, a community organizer at the PNR FTI Compound, said a water provider didn’t give any clear breakdown of the fee, and just told the residents that the processing fee and taxes are expensive.

For Nelia, a single mother of two, the cost is prohibitive. She sells fruits and cow skin in the market to provide for their daily needs.

“If I sell 10 kilos of cow skin, I only earn around P400 to P500. Then I buy rice, diapers, which cost P100, and our food budget is P100. Only P100 to P150 is left in my earnings that day. I spend that money to buy water and other necessities,” she said.

Therefore, Nelia said that she could not afford the membership fee even though Manila Water gave them time to save money to reach the required fee.

Despite an expensive membership fee, she’s still hopeful that the MWSS would continue the water service in their community since she gets back pains from fetching water every day.

“Other marginalized communities experience the same. Even though they already have savings and budget for their water pipeline connection, other issues like the threat of demolition get in the way. Many still lack access to their water pipelines,” Doringo said.

No less than the United Nations recognized how marginalized communities are often overlooked, if not discriminated against in their bid to access water and sanitation services. This is despite the right to water being recognized as a right, derived from the right to an adequate standard of living under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution recognizing “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

“Fetching water is difficult, especially for a mother like me. We hope to have an affordable water supply,” Nelia said. (JJE, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

This story is supported by the German Embassy Manila as part of Bulatlat’s project titled, “Advancing human rights reporting in the Philippines as a tool for upholding gender fairness, democracy and accountability.”

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