Water for the People Network | Privatization threatens access to water of 28,000 farmers, 14 million consumers
As the country marks World Water Day today, we call on government to abandon its plan to privatize water facilities like the Angat Dam amid longstanding issues of lack of people’s access to water.
It is alarming that despite a worsening water shortage caused by the El Niño phenomenon and the gross failure of water privatization, government still pursues its flawed water policies such as the impending privatization of the Angat Dam. Big local and foreign corporations including those controlled by the Cojuangcos, Ayalas, Pangilinans, Aboitizes, and Lopezes have expressed interest to bid for the hydropower facilities of Angat that will give them effective control over the dam’s water.
On the other side, some 28,000 farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga and around 14 million consumers in Metro Manila, and parts of Cavite and Rizal provinces will face even less water supply. Angat Dam currently serves the irrigation needs of more than 31,000 hectares of farmlands and 97% of the domestic water requirements of areas under the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
As it is even without the El Niño, about 4,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan which the Angat Dam is supposed to irrigate are not irrigated and left to rely on rains. Similarly, more than 3.2 million people in Metro Manila who are supposed to be served by Angat Dam’s water through private MWSS concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water are denied water service until today.
On March 23, the Water for the People Network (WPN) and our partner organizations will hold a roundtable discussion on Angat Dam. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will talk about the implications of the Angat Dam privatization on the basic human right to access water. Other stakeholders participating in the roundtable include the MWSS, farmers from Bulacan, and consumers in Metro Manila.
As an alternative to privatization, the WPN is proposing that responsibility for managing and operating Angat Dam must be turned over to the public’s hands. Concretely, this could be a joint undertaking by the MWSS, National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) with sufficient mechanisms for multi-stakeholder participation – including consumers, farmers, non-government organizations, and concerned local government units – in the management of the dam. (end)