Consumers of the Bacolod City Water District and leaders of various multi-sectoral organizations are vehemently opposing the proposed joint venture between the water utility firm and Prime Waters Inc., and are urging the Baciwa Board to furnish them with information about the project.
In their letter to Baciwa chairman Lorendo Dilag, representatives of various multi-organizations said the decision of the members of the Baciwa Board on this crucial issue was arbitrary and done surreptitiously without the benefit of sufficient consultation with the stakeholders of Baciwa.
“We were not aware of the exorbitant cost of this project but we anticipate that there will be an imposition of a heavy economic burden on the consumers by way of unabated water rate increases in the future. This scheme would eventually lead to the privatization of Baciwa”, they said.
The group said the strongly believe that this joint venture project between Baciwa and Prime Waters is in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, particularly Section 7, Article III of the Bills of Rights, which states that: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.”
They said that until now, the majority of the Baciwa consumers in Bacolod City are groping in the dark and are not fully aware about the “nitty-gritty” of this joint venture. The main responsibility of Baciwa as a government-owned and controlled corporation is to deliver water, which is a very basic vital need to the people, they said.
The letter was signed by representatives of Water Watch, Freedom From Debt Coalition, Women’s Day Office, UNDOC-Negros, Kadamay-Bacolod, Federation of Urban Poor-Negros, Social Action Center, Bayan Muna-Negros, Kabataan Partylist, Utilities Consumers Alliance of Negros, among others.
Meanwhile, SAC director Fr. Chris Gonzales is requesting Councilor Dindo Ramos to conduct a public hearing on the joint venture project so that the public, who will be largely affected by this move, may have prior knowledge on what Baciwa is getting into and what may be the effect of such move to its consumers.
Gonzales, chairman of the Committee on Information, Communication Technology and Energy of the Diocese of Bacolod, said the consumers have the right to full disclosure on any move or plan of Baciwa.
“It is clear to us that Baciwa is doing such projects to better improve its services. But the latest joint venture has us confused and alarmed,” he said.*
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