SAC, groups reiterate call to conduct hearing on proposed Baciwa joint venture contract
THE Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Bacolod and other consumer groups here yesterday 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.
SAC head Fr. Chris Gonzales said that once the water district will be privatized, it’s a disadvantage to the consumers.
“We are still waiting for the City Council to conduct a public hearing on the proposed joint venture of Baciwa and Prime Water.”
Gonzales earlier asked the city government to conduct a public hearing on the impending joint venture to be entered by the Baciwa.
He said the impending joint venture is obviously without the full knowledge of the concessionaires and the consuming public.
He said the consumers have the right to full disclosure on any move or plan that Baciwa undertakes, like the projects on bulk water aimed to efficiently deliver water to its consumers.
“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,” Gonzales stressed.
Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of Water Watch Advocate, also said they condemned the stand of the board of directors of Baciwa because they violated the full disclosure policy which was stated on the Philippine Constitution.
“The consumer deserves to know what is going on, but why is it until now we are not informed. We do not know the terms and conditions of this joint venture. This move was done surreptitiously without the benefit of sufficient consultation with the Baciwa stakeholders,” he said.
He added the privatization is grossly disadvantageous to the consumers.
Sancho also pointed out that Baciwa has lack transparency and accountability.
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) secretarygeneral Pricilla Goco, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Michael Dela Concepcion, Kadamaynegros secretary-general Berlita Ante, Gabrielanegros representative Edna Araneta and Pm-women representative Corazon Aghon also expressed their support on the stand of SAC and Water Watch
They said it’s the obligation of the City Council to check and study the joint venture move of Baciwa because it’s part of their mandate.
“The board of directors of Baciwa should disclose the proposed joint venture. We are against the privatization because it’s really a disadvantage to the consumers. The joint venture is not a solution to our problems like the insufficient delivery of water supply among others,” they said.
They added that Baciwa can improve their services without going to a joint venture.
The consumer groups also questioned the effort of the newly appointed members of the board on how to address the Baciwa’s problem.
“The board of directors is there to protect the consumers. We believe that the board of the directors are the voice of the consumers unfortunately, they only did their own voice and the voice of Prime Water. They do not hear the voice of the consumers,” they sad.
The consumer groups also urged the city officials to intervene on this issue for the benefits of the consumers.
Baciwa chair Lorendo Dilag earlier assured the concessionaires that both the management and the board are against privatization and that partnership with private companies is an alternative to achieve their vision to give full consumers satisfaction.
He said they are only in the negotiation stage with Prime Water and that nothing is definite yet on its proposal.
He assured the public that Baciwa will remain as a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Local Water Utilities Administration.*
BACOLOD Diocese Social Action Center head Fr. Chris Gonzales (center) with the leaders of consumer groups, namely, (from left) Water Watch Advocate secretary-general Wennie Sancho, Freedom from Debt Coalition secretary-general Pricilla Goco, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Michael Dela Concepcion, and Kadamay-negros secretarygeneral Berlita Ante during a press conference yesterday at the SAC conference room in the Bishop’s House in Bacolod City.