Multi-sectoral groups in Bacolod City are forming a coalition to oppose the joint venture project between the Bacolod City Water District and Prime Water that they believe will result in the increase of water rates.
Representatives of the Social Action Center, the Freedom from Debt Coalition, Gabriela-Negros, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros, and Power Watch held a press conference yesterday to oppose the project that they believe will lead to the privatization of Baciwa and will not guarantee that the services of the water utility firm will improve.
SAC director, Fr. Chris Gonzales, yesterday said they want to know why Baciwa needs to enter into a joint venture that is now in the second stage of negotiation with a private company, to improve its services.
Gonzales also noted that Bacolod does not have its own water source.
Baciwa officials had earlier said they had to enter into the joint venture project with a private company because Baciwa has no sufficient funds to improve its services.
Gonzales said they are also calling on the city officials to look seriously into the problem and to shift their bias for the benefit of their constituents and not of businesses not from the city.
Berlita Ante of Kadamay-Negros said they are opposing the privatization of Baciwa that they believe will increase water rates since the urban poor have no fixed income.
The group also believes that Baciwa can address the water problem of Bacolod City with the support of local and national governments.
Pricilla Goco, FDC secretary general, said it has been proven that when a private company runs a utility firm, its rates will be higher as privatization does not connote efficiency.
Michael De la Peña, Bayan Negros spokesperson, said there is a need for the Board of Directors of Baciwa to disclose the project because they are accountable to the consumers since Baciwa is a Government Owned and Controlled Corporation.
The group is hoping that Baciwa will not push through with the joint venture project if there is no guarantee that this will solve the water problem in Bacolod City.*
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