Updated Mar 17, 2019, 6:51:30 PM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — Four senatorial candidates on Sunday proposed the nationalization of the country's water resources to avoid a crisis like the one in parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.
Senate hopefuls Ernesto "Lawin" Arellano, Toti Casiño, Glenn Chong, and Richard Alfajora tackled the ongoing water woes in areas served by west zone concessionaire Manila Water during the CNN Philippines senatorial forum. Arellano, Casiño, and Alfajora agreed that the problem stems from the privatization of water service.
"Ang tubig ay kontrolado ng mga malalaking namumuhunan. Ang kanilang unang inaasikaso ay ang pamumuhunan nila. Sa Senado, aking imumungkahi na lahat ng korporasyon at kumpanya na nagdidistribute ng basic needs ay isasapulbiko gaya ng dati," Arellano said.
Casiño added, "Sa simula pa lang, mali na ang polisiya na i-privatize ang serbisyong pampubliko. Karapat-dapat lang na manatili sa pangangasiwa ng pamahalaan."
Alfajora agreed, "Ang state, siya dapat ang humawak sa kalakal ng tubig."
Since 1995, water distribution in Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal and Cavite has been controlled by Manila Water and Maynilad after then President Fidel Ramos signed the National Water Crisis Act which resulted in the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Today, Manila Water handles the east zone while Maynilad is in charge of customers in the west zone.
Casiño said Congress should look into suspending the franchise of the two water concessionaires.
But Chong said the suggestions of the three candidates have to be studied further.
"As to whether the privatization or nationalization is the answer, dapat munang busisiin itong option. Ayaw kong mag-jump into conclusions na hindi pa nabusisi kaya gusto ko pong imbestigahan muna the root cause of this," he said.
Instead, Chong urged the government to do a better job at providing for the people's basic needs.
"I would like to see greater oversight ng government because the government cannot turn its back (on this.) Just because na-privatize wala na pong responsibilidad ang gobyerno. We need to put greater oversight para hindi tayo ma-sabotahe," he stressed.
He said conservation is the short- and long-term solution to the water crisis.