By Ben Rosario
Rescinding a Ramos-era executive order authorizing the privatization of water services is the only way President Duterte can show sincerity in getting rid of two water concessionaires he accused of benefitting from contracts that are grossly disadvantageous to the public.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said Duterte must put an end to the miseries millions of Filipinos suffer each day by getting rid of the two water concessionaires and others like them that might take advantage of the presidential directive signed during by President Fidel V. Ramos.
Brosas, said revoking Executive Order No. 311 series of 1996 is a concrete step that the President can do to reverse the privatization of water services that is prone to abuse.
The lady solon was among the numerous House members who filed a resolution seeking to review the concession agreements between the government and the two water concessionaires of Metro Manila – the Ayala-led Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
“Duterte should complement his order to review the concession agreement with a decisive move to junk EO 311 which provides the basis for the privatization of the MWSS. Otherwise, he may just be positioning his favored oligarch, the Villars, to take control and profit further from the water supply needs of Filipinos,” said Brosas.
EO 311 resulted in the entry of Maynilad and Manila Water to the water services distribution operation in Metro Manila and adjoining localities in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan.
“The President can also make a priority measure the repeal of Republic Act No. 8041, which authorizes the government to enter into negotiated contracts for the sourcing and distribution of water supply,” added Brosas.
The Gabriela lawmaker also questioned the much-delayed reaction of the Palace to the clamor of Filipino women and the people to review the highly controversial concession agreement, which has generated billions for the private water firms.
According to Brosas the Gabriela Women’s Party has refiled House Resolution No. 19 proposing for a congressional review of the concession agreement. The legislative measure was among the measures she filed on day 1 of the 18th Congress.
“ We have repeatedly trooped to the MWSS and Malacanang to call for the reversal of water privatization in light of recurring water interruptions,” Brosas said. “Why is the President going ballistic against Maynilad and Manila Water only now? ” the opposition solon added.
Gabriela also called on Malacanang not to exploit the situation by trying to “comfortably sneak in” a water firm run by Duterte’s close political ally.