EX­PLAIN!

SAC, groups re­it­er­ate call to con­duct hear­ing on pro­posed Baciwa joint ven­ture con­tract

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY MERLINDA A. PEDROSA

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

Ad­vo­cate.

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.*

MERLINDA PEDROSA

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.

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