Group mulls suit vs Baciwa over joint venture proposal

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – A local consumer’s group is mulling legal actions after receiving the answer of Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) on the proposed joint venture with Prime Water Infrastructure Corp.

Waterwatch-Bacolod and labor leader Wennie Sancho said he is not convinced by Baciwa’s explanations as to why they cannot give the details.

Baciwa claimed that they are following the “rule of confidentiality” based on the guidelines of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Sancho said it is the right of every consumer to be made aware of updates from local water utilities.

He also said that various stakeholders and the Diocese of Bacolod Social Action Center are planning legal actions against Baciwa for its refusal to give the details they were asking.

Sancho continuously sent letters to the Baciwa Board but they were repeatedly ignored.

While acknowledging the two public hearings held on the matter, he claimed the Baciwa board failed to attend the said meetings.

Sancho also said that their organization is only seeking clarification, expressing fears the joint venture “looks like privatization.”

He claimed that consumers pay the 12-percent value-added tax if the venture pushes through.

Meanwhile Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr lambasted  Baciwa in a privilege speech at the Sangguniang Panlungsod and called on its board to “exercise public transparency and accountability” via consultations.

Gamboa also highlighted the P537-million loan of the public utility.

“Where did the P537-million loan and the additional supplemental budget of P108 million in 2002 to 2008 go?” he asked.

He said the utility firm’s lack of transparency creates a “form of oppression,” which leads the public to view the joint venture agreement as a “necessary evil.”