The Employees Union of the Zamboanga City Water District

leads picket rally against legislative bills privatizing water services


July 18,  2012






Photos courtesy of BAYAN - Zamboanga City


Zamboangenos protest privatization of Water District

The Employees Union of the Zamboanga City Water District led the picket rally against Senate Bill 2997 and House Bill 5497, or the legislative decisions to privatize all the remaining government controlled water districts, on July 18, 2012 as part of the nationally-coordinated protest against privatization of water services.

Ed Minghala, President of Zamboanga City Water District Employees Union (ZCWDEU), rallied more than 30 employees in front of the ZCWD office at Pilar Street in Zamboanga City during lunch break as part of their condemnation against the Aquino administration’s move to privatize all water districts in the country.
The ZCWDEU is part of the nationwide coalition Water System Employees’ Response which also called for another nationally-coordinated protest on July 23, in time for President Noynoy Aquino’ 3rd State of the Nation Address.

STOP PRIVATIZATION! or Solidarity To Oppose Privatization – Western Mindanao, an alliance of organizations and individuals against privatization of social services and government –owned and controlled corporations, supported the picket rally led by the employees union of Zamboanga City Water District.

As part of their symbolic protest, the workers and the supporter wore blue shirts with the message “Water is Life, Stop Privatization” written in front of the shirts.

Neil Murad, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Zamboanga City, spoke in front of the employees of ZCWD about the privatization of other social services such as health. On May 16, 2012, the Committee on Health of the House of Representatives approved the passage of House Bill No. 6069 or “An Act Creating National Government Hospital Corporations.” Among those 26 government hospitals targeted for corporatization is the Zamboanga City Medical Center.

Murad also enjoined ZCWDEU to participate in the “SONA ng BAYAN” on July 23 where more than 500 residents from different sectors of Zamboanga City, Basilan and Sibugay will converge at the Plaza Pershing in Zamboanga City to expose the true state of the nation in contrast to President Aquino’s SONA.

Murad also invited ZCWD workers to show support to the picket rally in front of the Zamboanga City Medical Center in the morning of July 23. Dubbed as “Save ZCMC! No To Privatization and Corporatization of Hospitals!” the picket rally aims to inform the public about the effects of House Bill 6069 and show opposition to Aquino administration’s move to privatize health services in the country.





Water Privatization in the Philippines:
Creating Inequity in People’s Access to Sufficient and Potable Water

According to the 2002 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, 3.2 million families (20%) do not have access to potable water. The same study showed that majority of families without access to clean drinking water comes from the poorest 40% of families in the Philippines.

The World Bank paints a similar picture as to the Filipinos’ equal access to sufficient and safe drinking water. In its 2001 Filipino Report Card on Pro-Poor Services, almost 8 out of 10 poor Filipinos do not have access to home-piped water. Water consumption among half of poor and rural households is unacceptably low at only 30 liters per capita per day.

The situation in rural areas is far worse. The same study showed that rural communities and the major island of Mindanao are underserved as urban households are more likely to be served by waterwork systems with individual household connections.

The same picture is true regarding Filipinos’ access to sanitation as 13.9 % of all families do not have a sanitary toilet.

Due to the unequal access to sufficient and safe water, a significant number of Filipinos get their water needs from doubtful sources according to the National Resources Water Board. In fact, the poor are three times more likely to source water from wells, springs, and communal faucets as compared to rich Filipinos, leading to a high incidence of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, gastroenteritis, malaria and dengue fever.

Unfortunately, the poor, despite having less access to water, pays more. The World Bank study showed that on the average, the poor allocate proportionally more of their monthly expenditure than the rich are, amounting to almost 9% of their household expenditures to buy vended and low-quality water.

As a solution to the worsening crisis, the Philippine government has turned to the privatization of the water sector in order to address the lack of and substandard water management and supply systems.

Although climate change, pollution, exploitation and overpopulation contribute to and exacerbate the global water crisis, the occurrence of ‘water shortages’ (i.e. shortage for the poor), in fact, is primarily a direct result of the globalization policies of privatization and commercialization of water.

Privatization leads to exorbitant rates and eventually, water cut-offs for the majority who are not able to pay. Central to the water problem, is to recognize that the problem is not water scarcity per se, but who owns and controls the water systems and resources.

The Water for the People Network- Asia (WPNA) firmly believes that the right to water is an extension of the human right to life, and should thus be recognized as a fundamental human right. The WPNA is also firm on the stand that water privatization has not and will definitely not lead to the realization of the human right to water and thus, alternatives should be explored by the governments as to the management of water resources utilization and distribution systems.

The WPNA takes the opportunity to provide relevant information to the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights on the water crisis situation in the Philippines and how the water privatization policy of the Philippine government has done nothing to alleviate the water crisis and has in fact, made water more inaccessible to the poor majority.

The Water Privatization Policy in the Philippines

Privatization became an official government policy during the Marcos administration by virtue of Presidential Decree 2029, which led to the creation of Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), and by virtue of PD 2032 which promulgated privatization as a policy, prior to the People Power in 1986.

The implementation of the privatization policy started with the sale of particular GOCCs (supposed white elephants or corporations owned by Marcos cronies) by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 50. The scope of privatization widened and included the water sector with the passage of the Aquino administration’s RA 6957 or the BOT Law which defined BOT schemes as “ a contractual arrangement whereby a contractor undertakes the construction, including financing, of a given infrastructure facility, and the operation and maintenance thereof.”............

Read more:

Download the complete paper on water privatization published by Ibon Foundation