MCWD employees’ warning: Water price may surge if privatization pushed
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Employees of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) have maintained their position against the privatization of the water district in the midst of issues surrounding its leadership.
In a press conference held on Wednesday, October 30, the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (AGWWAS) and the MCWD Employees Union (MEU) said privatizing the water district or opening its operations to private partnerships will do more harm than good in the delivery of water services.
Victor Chiong, AGWWAS president emeritus, said opening MCWD, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), will provide private companies the opportunity to run the water district the way they want it to and may end up with increased charges.
MCWD is currently charging P15.20 per cubic meter of water.
To drive his point, Chiong made a comparison of the rates in Metro Manila where the water supply is being concessioned by two private companies.
Chiong said that prior to the privatization in 1997, the water rate was only at P4 to 7 per cubic meter.
He said these rates are now at P34.65 to P46.75 per cubic meter of water.
Rumors of privatizing MCWD came about after Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella sacked all members of the water district’s board of directors last October 15.
Although no statement has been made regarding the rumored privatization, Chiong said several setbacks may be faced if the water district will open its doors to corporate players.
Chiong said joint ventures between public and private entities will not ensure a fair management of the water district as corporate partner may end up controlling the entire operation.
During the press conference, MEU president Abigail Almeria said that public-to-public partnerships in developing water resources is the most viable long-term solution to Cebu’s water crisis.
Public-to-public partnerships can be between MCWD and local government units, she said.
Almeria said the leadership of the MCWD should look into a water agenda that would “address and sustain the public’s right to quality water service.”
“The union, thus, urge all stakeholders to buckle down to work and bring all resources to bear in order to address the public’s right to water, rather than waste so much time and effort in confronting external influences,” Almeria said quoting the MEU’s official statement on the removal of the BODs.
Almeria said outside factors may endanger water security and destroy the integrity of MCWD as an institution. / celr
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