By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Congressmen from the Makabayan bloc are seeking a probe on the privatization of local water districts by the Villar-led Prime Water Corporation.
In a resolution, the Makabayan bloc expressed concern over the takeover of more than 30 local water districts across the country by company owned by former Senate President Manny Villar and his wife, Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chair Cynthia Villar.
The Makabayan bloc stressed they are worried that Prime Water may monopolize the control of every local water district utility through its Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) scheme amid the reported complaints of poor customer satisfaction in their areas of responsibility.
“There were complaints on the quality and supply of water provided by Prime Water, including the non-potable water, intermittent supply, and unreliable billing and meter reading system,” the resolution read.
The Commission on Audit (COA) through its 2018 annual report disclosed the water provided by Villar’s company in Guagua Pampanga is contaminated with high levels of arsenic.
The maximum allowable level of arsenic for drinking water is at 0.01 mg/L.
But the arsenic level recorded in the pumping station being operated by Prime Recorded was recorded 0.023 mg/L–almost twice of the level allowed under the law.
Villar’s company has also took over the control of some 35 private water districts and about 100 local water districts according to Ramir Corcolon, president of San Pablo Water District Employees Association, at Water Systems Employees Response (WATER).
Prime Water’s takeover has also led to mass layoff local water districts personnel in Quezon Province; Lemery, Batangas; Los Baños, Laguna; Batangas City; Rosario, Batangas; and Daraga, Albay.
According to the Makabayan bloc, Congress “must initiate legislative measures to reverse water privatization and save the public from the profiteering of big private companies” not only by Prime Water but also the two giant water concessionaires in the country—Maynilad and Manila Water.
“There is an increasing clamor to reverse water privatization. Many see that there is no way out of the trap of exorbitant water rates and unreliable service unless the concession and joint venture agreements with profit-driven private companies are junked,” the resolution read.