Lawmaker allays fears on water reform measure-A A +A
Sunday, June 17, 2012
A DAVAO City lawmaker has allayed fears raised by some sectors on the proposed water sector reform bills now pending in Congress.
Critics of the water reform bills earlier claimed that House Bill 5497 and its counterpart Senate Bill 2997 would lead to privatization of all water districts in the country.
The critics also said the privatization will mean an increase in water rates and loss of jobs for employees of water firms.
But Representative Karlo B. Nograles, House assistant majority leader, has vowed to protect the interests of workers and consumers of Davao City Water District (DCWD) and other performing water utilities elsewhere in the country while Congress deliberates on pending water sector reform bills.
"The water districts and other water service providers throughout the country should not fear the proposals of HB 5497," he said. He assured to look after their interests until the proposed law reaches its final draft.
"The bill will exempt well-performing water districts from being amalgamated," he assured, pointing out that DCWD is "perhaps the best performing water district in the country."
The co-author of House Bill 5497, Nograles said the idea is to help non-performing areas to deliver adequate water and sanitation services to a large segment of population.
He said records show that 17 million Filipinos still do not have access to safe water.
"We must realize that out of 580 water districts around the country, 125 are still non-operational," Nograles said.
Nograles explained that HB 5497 seeks to adopt and institutionalize an Integrated Water Resources Management approach to managing the country's water resources, as well as reforming the water supply and sanitation sector to achieve universal access across the archipelago.
On fears of job loss, Nograles assured that "where water service providers do not make the cut for exemption, their labor forces need not fear since the amalgamated entity must absorb them to continue operations."
The public's greater interest will also be protected as the bill will make available a database of information on the national water industry for the customers to check the performance and pricing data of their local service provider compared to water districts in other provinces or cities. Nograles said this will allow the end-users to determine if they are being over-charged by their local water service provider.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 18, 2012.