Erstwhile allies in the political majority are “clashing” on the nature of the “authority” given Prime Water in a controversial resolution virtually giving an informal nod to this new player in providing water services to an ever-growing population of the city of Dumguete.
One side claims such “authority” was granted pre-empting the go-signal from the National Water Resources Board. While the other side says that the “authority” in such resolution was all subject to all requirements needed for its legitimate operation without “jumping the gun” on vital requirements and conditions.
Soome members of the majority defended the resolution granting PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation with an authority so they could compete with the Dumaguete City Water District’s new private partner Metro Pac.
Councilor Alan Cordova expressed his disfavor to the apparent haste by which the resolution was granted without waiting for the National Water Resources Board to grant the franchise first.
The proponent of the resolution, Councilor Manuel Arbon, clarified that the decision of the majority was never a water right or permit to operate , but merely grants authority to “construct, commission, establish, operate and maintain a water supply system within the city subject to all terms and conditions to be set out in a separate ordinance and Memorandum of Agreement still subject to the approval of the City Council.”
The resolution was approved by the majority namely, Councilors Manuel Arbon, Karissa Tolentino-Maxino, Joe Kenneth Arbas, Lilani Ramon, Michael Bandal, Manuel Sagarbarria, Dione Amores and Lei Marie Danielle Montesa Tolentino. Those who abstained for being out during the voting were Councilors Agustin Miguel Perdices, Estanislao Alviola and Jose Victor Imbo.
The public questioned why councilors who are fully paid of over P50,000 a month plus allowances would “absent”: themselves in voting on vital matters affecting the city of 150,000 taxpayers.
“What or who gives them the right to absent themselves in important votations such as this, and not make any contributory ideas and they want to be voted upon in the next elections?”
The people have the right to also absent themselves from voting upon these people who do not even bother to cast their votes on vital issues such as the much needed and now depleting supply of water for the people.
This is an insult to the democratic process and voters should now think whether to bring these people back to the city council and for what purpose.
However, Cordova insisted on why the majority pre-empted the NWRB in granting the authority when it was not even a pre-requisite. He added that the supposed granting of authority was already synonymous to a franchise.
“That is only a perception and opinion of Mr Cordova which is not binding at all, “: said one legislator. Cordova was merely expressing his right to speak, he said.
Speaking for the majority, Arbas clarified that he is fully aware that the City Council could not grant a water right or permit but the resolution was only meant to underscore the fact that the City Government accepts and authorizes the entry and operation of another water district within the city. Nevertheless, PrimeWater will still have to comply and procure all other requisite permits, licenses or clearances from the other government regulatory agencies.
Arbas criticized the Dumaguete City Water District for claiming that allowing a second player in the local water industry would result in scarcity of supply considering that the number of consumers and the source remain the same.
Councilor Lilani Ramon declared that she cannot condone the eventual privatization of the DCWD and the entry of a private competitor who cannot assure the consumers with an option of better service and affordable rates.
Consumers have been complaining of poor service by the DCWD on low or absent water pressure at certain times of the day or night, and oftentimes, even poor maintenance or repairs of lines. However, some councilors sadly believe that DCWD will not feel compelled or pressured by consumerss to address, much more improve, the quality of service under its present monopoly.
In short, there is a need for a viable competitor so that the public will patronize one which has the better service and better affordable rates. In this way, too, competing service providers will try to out-do each other in giving better service to the water consumers of Dumaguete.