Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and other groups protested in front of Manila Water office in Quezon City as parts of Metro Manila and Rizal continue to be affected by water supply shortage.
BAYAN accused the government of using the water shortage issue to justify ‘environmentally-destructive’ projects such as the Kaliwa Dam allegedly being funded by China through ‘onerous’ loans.
BAYAN criticized Manila Water ‘ poor service in contrast to its profits. The group said that Manila Water earned a whopping P6.5 billion in 2018 and another P6.5 billion in 2017 and was even granted a rate hike of P6.50 per cubic meter spread over 5 years. The private water concessionaire has even expanded its operations overseas to include Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Manila Water previously told government that the water level at the La Mesa Dam continues to drop as a result of El Niño but water delivery operations may normalize only by August. The company’s officials also reported earlier that the dam’s water level has breached its lowest in 21 years, down to the 68.74 meter mark.
Bayan also said the El Niño phenomenon should not be blamed, as Manila Water said it was unable to adapt to the demands of an expanding customer base. The consumer demand rises 3% every year since 1997, according to Manila Water.
Privatization of public utilities
Water privatization in Metro Manila began in 1997 during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, along with many other public utilities. Water privatization was the proposed solution to the water crisis in 1994 and in general, privatization was the proposed solution to the inefficiency of government to provide basic public utilities and services to the people.
Concession contract for East Manila was awarded to Manila Water, owned by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corporation, that also owned Ayala Land, BPI, Globe Telecom, Ayala Malls, and other strategic holdings in power, transport, manufacturing, automotive, etc.
Concession contract for West Manila was awarded to Maynilad Water Services owned by Manny V. Pangilinan, also the owner of Philex Mining Corporation; tollways, water, hospitals and Metro Manila’s only electricity distributor Meralco under Metro Pacific Investments Corporation; and, the largest telecommunications and digital services in the country PLDT, among others.
Corporations of the two water concessionaire holders also won contracts to build the North Avenue LRT 1 Unified Grand Central Station and the LRT 1 Bacoor Extension.
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