Public hearing urged as PrimeWater eyes MCWD takeover
MALAYBALAY CITY (24 August 2020) – The city council is urging the management of Malaybalay City Water District to conduct a public hearing before turning over the city’s water operations to PrimeWater Corp. for next 25 years.
The 2-billion peso joint venture plan was shared by Glenrose Ledesma, MCWD general manager, to the provincial board last February when negotiations were still underway. PrimeWater is owned by former Senator Manny Villar. The proposal has since been accepted.
On August 18, the council passed a resolution requesting both Ledesma and Roberto Tinsay Jr., chairman of the MCWD board to appear on the council session on August 25 to present details of the JV agreement.
Juanito Aroa, former general manager of MCWD, told the council that though he does not have a copy of the agreement, he learned from sources that PrimeWater will take over starting October 1.
Aroa said the agreement was signed in the presence of few MCWD officials, calling the move as a step towards “privatization disguised as a joint venture.”
The former manager was joined by Sawaga Movement officials Romulo Ongkiatco and Retired Judge Vivencio Estrada.
When reached for comment, Goldy Huervas, MCWD information officer, refused citing “lack of authority.”
Councilor Estelito Marabe, who sponsored the resolution, said everyone has a right to “sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water…Water service provider should not be considered a business for it is a public utility and imbued with public interest.”
Rate for residential use is currently set at Php 120 per 10 cubic meter. It is seen to increase following PrimeWater’s takeover.
“There was no transparency when MCWD enters into a joint venture agreement with the private firm to improve its water supply and facilities,” Marabe said. “There were no public hearings…the voice of the water consumers were not even heard.”
Marabe said they should include the water-consuming public in the discussion of the merits of the terms of reference and the provisions of the contract through the conduct of several proper public hearings. (Mel B. Madera)