Focusing on just Manila Water diverts the issue away from privatization as the central issue in, and underlying reason behind, the artificial shortage. As such, it also has the effect of absolving government of responsibility when in fact, the biggest accountability in all this lies with government for abandoning its duty to ensure water for the people.
The MWSS and the water companies did not give the consumers’ groups documents or explanations of the basis of raising water rates. Representatives of consumers’ groups repeatedly asked to no avail.
For most Filipino families, especially the poor and those in the lower income brackets, the rising costs of these basic needs mean tremendous pressure on household budgets.
Bayan Muna lawmakers asked the Supreme Court to stop this virtual “transfer of power to a private entity,” or transfer of power to decide on matters that are within the purview of MWSS, as the government regulating agency, to the concessionaires or to a private arbitration/appeals panel, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.
“Unjust and immoral pass-on charges manifest the failure of the Concession Agreement between Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water to provide affordable water rates to the consuming public.” – Bayan Muna House Resolution No.39
“The Filipino workers and people are fed up and are protesting against the rising prices and intensifying demolitions. The context is rock-bottom wages and chronic unemployment. That is the real state of the nation.” – Kilusang Mayo Uno
For various consumer groups, it is not a question of amending the agreement but scrapping it altogether.
“There are more than enough grounds for the rates to go down if regulators will really disallow the charging of questionable items such as the income taxes of the two water concessionaires.” – Renato Reyes, Bayan
This year, private water concessionaires are up for ‘rate rebasing,’ meaning they would substantially increase water rates to pass on the costs of their planned projects, some of which would not be implemented but will be charged to consumers anyway. This is aside from the usual rate increases.
News release 1 February 2011 The Water for the People Network (WPN) condemned the rate hikes implemented by private water concessionaires in Metro Manila, calling the increases unjustified and insensitive to the plight of ordinary consumers. Starting this month, Manila Water Co. will charge P1.92 per cubic meter (cu. m) more on residential customers using…