REMEMBER when the taps ran dry in many sections in Metro Manila? That was only last March. Long queues of people with their pails, waiting by roving water trucks, were shown on television. How come? Who’s to blame? Let’s point our fingers at past administrations. Why in Heaven’s name did government privatize, through the Metropolitan Water System (MWSS), water services to two giant companies? No one can be bigger than the Manny V. Pangilinan group and the Lopez group of companies. Their water companies are Manila Water and Maynilad.
There’s a saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Here in Pampanga and elsewhere, the Villar group’s Prime Water started some years back, buying into government-owned water districts. In a recent article in this paper, I wrote a two-sentence comment regarding this and it elicited a lot of comments, and some found their way to my Facebook wall. Almost all are in agreement that the water districts should have been spared.
My friend Bert Basa, who was former director of the San Fernando Water District, said "the provincial government should initiate investigations of Prime Water and (other) water districts because all the board members are appointed by the local executives."
Jay Carl, a prominent banker and civic leader, said: "Tatang Max , review of Joint Venture really needs thorough investigation. My sources say the water districts in Mabalacat, Guagua, Floridablanca and San Fernando entered into JV for a song. The board of directors of the aforesaid water districts ceded management on a mere promissory note or commitment of Prime Water. In all of the above water districts, there were no substantial payments upfront that went to water districts."
A Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter who was formerly a board member of the San Fernando Water District wrote: "Tatang Max here are the facts: CSFWD (meaning City of San Fernando Water District) entered into a JV where the latter is investing P7 billion spread over 25 years. CSFWD resorted to JV because banks rarely give loans. LWUA wasn’t giving much and the water sector as a whole was neglected. We were earning only P8M in a year and it all went to developing new wells. The amount was not enough to put equipment that would filter the water. The JV went through NEDA board and Balibago Water didn’t finish its feasibility study despite extension and didn’t bid. That was how Prime Water got the JV contract."
There you have it folks. Draw your own conclusions.
TIDBITS: I think the hardworking Vince Dizon, President of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, must having sleepless nights as the day for the Southeast Asian Games Is nearing. The facilities at the New Clark City are to be completed in November. I made a visit there the other day. To my mind it would take a miracle to complete the facilities on the opening day. But sometimes miracles happen... How in the world that for many years there are several business establishments in Angeles City operating without business permits? May natulog sa pansitan or may nalagyan... Who is this Elvira Grannil aka Tita Elvie? How come she is so popular in certain business districts?