End to water privatization sought

MULTI-SECTORAL groups are calling to stop the privatization of water utilities in the country.

Multi-sectoral groups, including the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (Agwwas), held a forum on March 22, 2021 to discuss the privatization of water utilities and water suppliers.

Jaime Paglinawan, chairman of Bayan Muna Region 7, said some consumers opt to source their water supplies from private entities due to their “promising” offers which, most of the time, eventually fail.

Paglinawan said it would be better if water utilities partnered with the government instead of private companies for the water supply.

He said that in November 2020, the Bayan Muna pushed House Bill 7962 to revisit the current policy, prohibiting the privatization of the water district utilities.

This was echoed by the Freedom Debt Coalition secretary general in Cebu chapter Teodorico Navea, who said that the first step to end privatization is to change the current policy in the country.

Navea said it has been two decades since the government allowed the privatization in the water sector.

Agwwas president Abigail Almeria said another way to end privatization is to conduct an education campaign among the consumers.

Almeria said if the public would be made aware of the negative impact of privatization, which usually brings a negative factor in terms of pricing, the system of privatization would eventually end.

As the House of Representatives is conducting an investigation on the privatization of water utilities in the country, the Agwwas and multi-sectoral group representatives hope that the investigation would result to the change of the policy, declaring the prohibition of privatization in the water sector.

The group also hoped that once the investigation will be concluded, it will grant the public access to the contracts entered into by the water utilities.

As the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) is working on its water desalination project, the group will check the contract if it would be beneficial to the consumers, especially in terms of pricing, Almeria said. (JJL)