More 200 workers belonging to the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) trooped to the headquarters of Maynilad this morning to demand the delivery of a long-delayed promise of water service connection in their area and to protest water rate increases.

Two years ago, the protesting workers, mostly residents of Maligaya Park Subdivision that straddles Quezon City and Coolocan City, took the promotional offer of MAYNILAD to provide water service connection upon payment of P200.00. Under this offer, the rest of the installment fees would be added to the workers’ monthly bills on an installment basis. Two years later, the workers have yet to see Maynilad’s delivery of the promised water connection!

This proves Maynilad’s inability to run a basic utility service that is supposedly committed in serving the interest of the consumers. Yet despite of this, Maynilad has the nerve to ask for water rate increases. To add insult to injury, Maynilad has even applied for rate-rebasing that would peg basic water tariffs at P30 pesos per cubic meter!

“Clearly the Lopezes do not know how to run a business outside of monopoly conditions,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of APL said. “This is a clear evidence of the failure of water privatization,” he added.

MAYNILAD, owned by the Lopez Group of Companies (that also owns the Manila Electric Co.) increased water rates last October 2001 and on January 1, 2002. It will again raise its rates in July 2002. Since it was privatized, water rates have jacked up by 135% from P6.58 pcm in September 2001 to P15.46pcm this march. Maynilad’s application for rate-basing would mean another 94% increase in the price of water.

To justify the increases, it published an ad in leading newspapers last April 17 claiming that their rates are cheaper than vendors selling purified bottled water and those providing provincial water. The APL suggests that the said paid was designed to mislead the consumers of Metro Manila. Why compare the prices of Maynilad with water vendors or provincial water? Why not compare it with the price of Manila Water Company? As of March 2002, Maynilad currently charges an average tariff of P15.46 pesos per cubic meter while Manila Water Company, despite its own list of inefficiencies, charges an average tariff of P6.75 per cubic meter.

Also, It cannot simply compare their rates to water vendors since those who consume bottled waters are the people who can afford to buy it. But a workers’ community, whose employment depends on contractual and seasonal jobs, and could not afford bottled water.

Water-vending stations are flourishing. This only shows the incompetence and inability of MAYNILAD to provide safe and potable water to every household. The consumers have yet to see improvements in the delivery of potable water and yet the government and water concessionaires keep on harping on the “merits” of privatizing public service utilities such as water.

The price increases, lousy service and the flawed regulatory process all prove that the biggest water privatization project in the world is a total failure thanks to greedy and inefficient water companies like Maynilad!

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and Tala Estate Settlers’ Federation (TESEFF) strongly condemn this appalling situation and demands the REPLACEMENT OF MAYNILAD AND THE REFORM OF REGULATORY BODIES. IT VOWS TO RESIST WATER PRICE INCREASES. The APL insists that the national government should review its privatization program and exclude public utilities from it since experience has shown that such will not truly serve the interest of the Filipino people.

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