PAMPANGA

Exec: Water district in ‘backdoor’ talks for privatization



A COUNCILOR in Angeles City said officials of the Angeles City Water District (ACWD) are in “backdoor” talks with a huge firm for the privatization or joint venture agreement (JVA) of the city’s water facility.

Councilor Jay Sangil said some officials of the water district are in a “panic mode cramming to privatize or negotiating backdoor with a big private water firm reportedly to avoid the legal suit filed by the city government.”

Sangil said he and Councilor Alfie Bonifacio bared the privatization move in the wake of alleged irregularities hounding the water district.

With the irregular transactions, Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr., has recently filed charges against ACWD officials before the Office of the Ombudsman, according to Sangil.

“Since we started our inquiry at the city council on the bulk water, construction of septage plant, and other alleged irregularities, some board directors and officials of ACWD began talking ‘backdoor’ with a big water company for privatization or a joint venture,” Sangil said.

“Reports have it that the officials of the water district even allowed the private water firm to make data logging activities in their pumping stations and allegedly giving away documents in a silver platter,” he added.

Sangil is the council committee chairman of public works/engineering and oversight while Bonifacio chairs the public utilities committee.

The two councilors claimed that ACWD is ignoring the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s (SP) request for financial report and business plan.

“Pero sa big water firm na kanilang kinakausap para sa joint venture mabilis pa kay Flash Gordon ang pagbibigay ng mga dokumento,” Sangil said.

Sangil and Bonifacio said documents showed that the water district submitted a letter signed by ACWD general manager Reynaldo Liwanag last October 15, 2019 requesting the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to send a representative to act as observer of the Joint Venture Selection Committee (JVSC) meeting held on October 22, 2019 at the Oasis Hotel.

But LWUA administrator Jeci Lapus in its reply stated that LWUA has temporarily suspended sending representatives to water districts with JVSCs.

“However, pursuant to memorandum circular Number 013-19, Reiteration of memorandum circular Number 003-13 dated February 28, 2013 on LWUA Review of Build Operate and Transfer and similar Public Private Partnership (PPP) proposal for water supply projects of local water districts, all proposals for joint venture should be submitted to LWUA for appropriate evaluation or review,” Lapus said.

Liwanag, for his part, belied claims that they are in backdoor talks with the private water firm.

According to him, the water district follows proper procedure under the guidance of LWUA and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

He added that the sending of the letter requesting for LWUA representative is part of the procedure and requirement.

“There are no backdoor talks. We are following proper procedure as required by Neda,” Liwanag said.


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