June 19 – The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) picketed today the MWSS to denounce the regulatory body for conspiring with the water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water in jacking up water rates through a mysterious scheme called rate re-basing.
While the previously approved rate adjustment that more than doubled the current water prices to P15 (a whooping 135% increase compared to September 2001 level) is still being contested, the APL reminded the public that the conspirators are currently scheming to once again double the water rates to P30 by January 2003! And had it not been for the exposé of Akbayan a few weeks ago, they would have done so in complete secrecy, the labor center added.
To top it all, the MWSS, through Amendment Number 1 of the concession agreement, has allowed the water concessionaires to fleece the consumers while at the same time removing penalties for their compliance in their service obligations: Nagdagdag na nga ng presyo nagbawas pa ng serbisyo! (They have increased their prices while reducing the level of their service obligation!)
The APL blamed the government for this dismal state of affairs in the water service by explaining that when private means are used to deliver public services, the profit motive would always take precedence at the expense of the public’s welfare. The privatization of MWSS is definitely a failure.
While it was the previous governments that privatized public water services, it is the current government that perpetrates the problem by failing to put in place a strong regulatory mechanism that can enforce service obligations of the water concessionaires!
The APL asserts that water is a right and as such should not be subjected to the whims and caprices of profiteers. It believes that the water concessionaires should deliver their service obligations under the original concession agreement. If they cannot deliver, they should not be allowed price hikes, much less, allowed to stay in the business of running a public utility. The APL calls on the MWSS to publicly disclose all information regarding the water concessionaires’ petition for rate re-basing.
The APL is a national labor center that espouses social movement unionism. It embraces various forms of workers’ organizations operating in the formal and informal sector.