Sanchez: Access to water as a human right

Nature Speaks

LAST week, SunStar Bacolod reported that the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod and other consumer groups appealed to the city officials to conduct a public hearing on the proposed joint venture or public-private partnership (PPP) between the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) and Prime Water.

Social Action Center head Fr. Chris Gonzales said that once the water district will be privatized, it will be a disadvantage to the consumers.

I beg to disagree on his assertion that Baciwa “will be a disadvantage to the consumers.”

As a consumer, Baciwa as a public utility has put Alijis and other barangays at a disadvantage. At one point, it managed to deliver water for only two hours. And that’s in the wee hours when people are enjoying their night rest.

“We want a clear explanation from the board of directors on what’s happening now to our basic need. The church is always here and recognizes that water is our basic need and its part of our social teaching that we should not privatize the basic needs of the people like transportation, water, medicine, education, power among others,” stressed Gonzales.

I agree that access to clean, potable water 24/7 days is a fundamental human right. If framed in that context, Baciwa as a public entity has been violating that concessionaires’ right.

Most of the time, our faucets get water from 1 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. And then on many occasions, we get brackish water at that.

Where is the Water Watch when Baciwa deprived us of clean fresh water? Have these consumer groups taken the cudgels for us?

Worse, for all this water scarcity, we were billed thousands of pesos. For two months, from P500 to P12,000, my monthly water bill skyrocketed to P3,000!

He said the consumers have the right to full disclosure on any move or plan that Baciwa undertakes, like the projects on bulk water which aims to efficiently deliver water to its consumers.

Again, I have yet to see that efficiency, not to mention effectiveness. According to the late and renowned management consultant Peter Drucker, efficiency is doing things right. When paying concessionaires get water only due to the wee hours, that’s inefficiency.

And Baciwa’s reasons—or excuses? Central Negros Electric Cooperative brownout. No money. It’s an “engineering” solution? Buy pails. Or build a water tank.

The world of human rights obligates the state to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of duty-holders. The state obligation to fulfil means that states must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

But it can be done through PPP. Or even privatization. There is nothing that prevents duty-bearers, that is, Baciwa to go for PPP. (


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