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House to probe PrimeWater-Villar’s anomalous takeover of Bacolod Water

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House Committee Government Enterprise and Privatization is set to conduct an inquiry over the alleged anomalous takeover of the Villar-owned Prime Water Corporation (PrimeWater) in Bacolod City.

Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna) said that the joint venture agreement between PrimeWater and the Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA) was railroaded following the lack of public consultations.

Last June, PrimeWater, owned by former Senate President Manny Villar and his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar, signed a 25-year joint venture agreement (JVA) with BACIWA through the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program.

Under the JVA, the Villar-led water utility will take over the operations BACIWA for the next two and a half decades.

According to Gaite, about 300 personnel of the Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA) may lose their jobs once Villar’s company gains control of the entire operations of the local water district (LWD).

“Some 300 employees of BACIWA will be affected,” Gaite and other Makabayan bloc congressmen disclosed under House Resolution No. 10.

Gaite earlier stressed that Congress should investigate PrimeWater’s sweetheart deals with Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) since it was also able to secure a deal to operate some 30 LWD despite poor customer satisfaction in their areas of responsibility.

PrimeWater’s takeover of other LWDs has also reportedly led to mass layoff of local water personnel in Quezon Province; Lemery, Batangas; Los Baños, Laguna; Batangas City; Rosario, Batangas; and Daraga, Albay.

The Makabayan bloc-sponsored resolution warned that the JVA between BACIWA and Villar’s company “seen to benefit only the private concessionaire.”

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