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Tuesday, September 17, 2019
BACOLOD

Ombion: Popular actions vs Baciwa privatization urgent

Perspective

THAT’s the only way to bring the issues down the community and the streets and generate popular actions to frustrate the deceptive plan to privatize, corporatize, joint venture, or whatever you may call it, the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa).

It seems clear by now that the Baciwa board, no matter what they say in and out of the company, is bent to surrender the public water utility to Prime Water Infrastructure Corp., a giant water company owned by the Villars.

Reports have it that all they are waiting for to complete the surrender and still make it appear that it’s the LWUA decision and not theirs is whether the offers from the Prime Water are acceptable or not, e.g. development plan for Baciwa, retirees’ compensation, and new management set up.

Of course, it’s all sweet talk for we all know that once a private capitalist company takes over a public service utility like Baciwa, everything will be turned upside down. Baciwa will become profit-oriented, as water will become an expensive commodity, as it already is.

Turning Baciwa into a profit company, and modernizing its system and services will surely be at the expense of the consumers. No profit company is merciful and benign to its consumers. It is always brutally rapacious and ravenous. Everything it spends will be charged to the consumers in terms of higher water fees and related charges. When that happens, and it will, water consumers will be burdened even more, and more will be deprived of access to water.

Once a new management takes over, union will be marginalized and will be forced by legal and extra legal means to dissolve. The new Baciwa will be union-freed and union-free corporation, something that every giant capitalist likes and wants.

The current Baciwa board leadership has miserably failed on its mission to continue the public commitment legacy of its original donors the Yulos who turned it into Yulo Water Works in 1929, Nawasa in 1955, and until its transformation into a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) in 1992.

Its precedent board officers were not as fair as the present. They too have yet to account for the millions debt incurred by the board from JICA and other funding institutions, because their rehab and improvement projects have failed, leaving the Baciwa as inefficient and incompetent in its public service function.

Given the inutility of the board, the only way to frustrate Prime Water and its allies in the Baciwa board and the City government is to make the union lead and generate popular actions.

It’s time for the union to transcend its union interests, put aside the narrow vested interests of its retiring officers, and embrace and highlight the public interests - cheaper and safe water and efficient water service.

The union must get out of their offices, go down to the communities, organized multisectoral fora, conduct lobby work with progressive officials in the city, province and national including concerned agencies, generate popular mass actions, shame the opportunists in the board and the rapacious giant company wanting to take it over.

This is the urgent task, and a task which must be carried out with decisiveness resoluteness and collective power of the union members, consumers and various concerned organizations, institutions and individuals.

The bigger task they have to prepare is a road map that can stand as the better alternative to the one presented by Prime Waters, or the myopic and disastrous options by the Dilag-led board.

This is a game of death fight. Don’t squander it.


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