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Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Ombion: People-owned and -managed power, water systems

Perspective

THE water supply crisis in Metro Manila is a vulgar example of our water and power systems nationwide being controlled by ravenous corporations, their favored contractors, and protected by corrupt politicians from the previous to the present administrations.

This crisis may ease for sometime but this is bound to worsen because these crooks will not sleep from finding better ways to rake profits and super profits by pillaging our resources and ecology.

The talks spreading around Metro Manila is that the water crisis is artificial or deliberate. They make it appear that there is lack of water because the ruling administration wants to have a foreign giant water company invest, and increase the cost of production and price of water per gallon.

Whether true or not, or the intention is to improve the delivery and increase the volume of water or not, or get new foreign players in the water industry or not, are already moot and academic because the fact is, water supply in most parts of the country does not increase in volume and improve in quality.

The greedy and the crooks are bent on making more profits, not provide efficient, quality and cheap service.

The same is long true in power supply, both coal and renewable energy.

The government is liberalizing and privatizing them, and even embellishing them with such misleading, equivocal concepts like corporatization, joint ventures, public private partnership (PPP).

The key officials in the ruling administration down to the local government units think of nothing better than bloating their greed and bleeding our beautiful and rich country. Their moves like PPP or corporatization only conjures the illusion in public perception that they are participatory or open to private sectors, when in fact, they are selling vital Philippine industries to private corporations and multinational interests.

As to energy utilization, I agree with some lawmakers and energy officials that there should be some acceptable mix of energy as a transition toward a clean energy. But it is mere lip service. Decades have passed and their view and policy remain the same.

I still stand that the best energy mix is all-renewable energy—wind, hydro, solar and biomass; and that one of the best options to make these valuable resources work better for our people and national development is to disband private monopolies in water and power and turn them over to the stewardship and management by the people organized into community-based water and power associations and cooperatives.

The government can start disbanding the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and reorienting power distributors into genuine people-owned and -managed community-based and small-scale water and power organizations, not as dummies of big power interests.

Small-scale and community-based power and water systems can be established with people organized into some mutual aid associations or cooperatives owning and managing the systems.

Scanning our communities, we have enough engineers, scientists, technicians in various industry fields who can lead and provide our community associations with technical and managerial skills to run power and water systems.

When our organized communities are in control of water and power, they can certainly spur local economic growth, and raise income and people’s quality of life.

All that the government can and must do is to put all these into a sort of energy road map and assets management plan, where results and outcomes will matter much for our poor people.

I say this because they have the money to finance startup enterprising renewable energy projects. They can also facilitate loans with Land Bank and other financing institutions for their constituents, cooperatives or associations. Or they can encourage and mobilize private sectors to put up these systems and have them amortized by the people at considerable terms.

Non-government development organizations with enterprising community partners can also integrate these small power systems to encourage more production, raise productivity and expand their business enterprises.

Still, communities, sectors and non-government organizations must collectively and methodically push the government to do it because the government often acts on mass pressure not on insincere benevolence.

And least I be misconstrued for pushing this impossible tasks, well, these can be achieved in small magnitudes, slowly and steadily. I am not only for what is small and micro. I have always believed that substantive change always begins in smaller and persistent initiatives.

I have always stood for fundamental reforms in our national economic, political and social infrastructure – not piecemeal and short terms.

For feedback email to ombion.ph@outlook.com


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