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Gaite slams “Villarization” of water utilities

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Bayan Muna party-list group has slammed the so-called “Villarization” of water services in the country as 63 local water utilities already under the control of the Villar-owned Prime Water Corporation.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said although President Rodrigo Duterte was correct over his recent remarks current water concessionaires—the Ayala-owned Manila Water Company and the Pangilinan-controlled Maynilad Water Services Inc.— have been “milking billions from Filipinos,” but planning to pass it to another corporate oligarch will only lead to another impending disaster.

According to Gaite, what the government needs to do in the face of Maynilad and Manila Water’s inefficiency and super-profiteering is to take over water services—to nationalize it, not just pass it on to another oligarch.

“Nationalization of water services ang solusyon dito, hindi transfer of control to his crony, not Villarization,” said Gaite.

Gaite said while President Duterte is complaining over the poor services by the two major water concessionaires, he should be reminded that Prime Water Company owned by former Senate President Manny Villar and his wife Sen. Cynthia Villar aren’t different from the Maynilad and Manila Water considering the spotty record in their water utility business.

Gaite stressed that Villar’s Prime Water already has effective control of 63 local water districts through its 25-year join venture agreements with them, “and where these agreements are in effect consumers have been complaining of very expensive but poor service.”

“Nagrereklamo ang pangulo sa palpak pero mahal na serbisyo, pero ang solusyon niya ay ibigay din sa isa pang pipiga ng sobra-sobrang tubo at, ayon sa mga ulat, palpak din,” said Gaite.

In his speech, Duterte blasted Maynilad of the Salim-Consunji consortium which is being operated by businessman Manny Pangilinan and the Manila Water of the Ayalas for “screwing” Filipinos with the onerous provisions in the 25-year deal with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

While the President has annihilated the owners of Maynilad and Manila Water, the chief executive hinted the billionaire former Senate chief as a possible replacement for the Pangilinan-controlled Maynilad and the Ayala group’s Manila Water in the country’s largest water concession area.

Bayan Muna solons led by Gaite recently filed House Resolution No. 10 urging the House of Representatives, through the Committee on Government Enterprise and Privatization, to conduct an inquiry over the privatization of water utilities in the different parts of the country,

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