BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The Bacolod City Water District may opt to avail of a multi-billion loan package from Land Bank of the Philippines, an amount which is enough to cover the rehabilitation and expansion of the water district.
Bacolod Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. told DNX that the idea was broached during the public hearing he presided which was supposed to address issues involving Baciwa including the supposed “overcharging” of fees, as well as the ability of the water utilities firm to provide clean, uninterrupted water supply to its concessionaires.
Gamboa said that the offer was given by LBP Director lawyer Jayvee Hinlo, who attended the hearing. Gamboa said Hinlo, through LBP, is willing to provide Baciwa any financial assistance it needs, and the director could also help facilitate all the requirements needed for the loan.
“I think this is great news,” Gamboa said, adding that instead entering a private-public partnership with PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation, the water district could instead opt for a loan package of about P2 billion for its expansion and rehabilitation needs.
Hinlo, in an interview with DNX, said he personally does not agree with a PPP, or with a private entity taking over the reins of Baciwa.
“I still prefer that Baciwa remain a [government owned and controlled corporation] since water supply is a public interest and should therefore be tied to public or government policy,” Hinlo said.
Should Baciwa be privatized, Hinlo said, the main motivation for its operations would no longer be service but profit, so water rates might increase regularly sans any regulation from local government.
“At least as a GOCC, the city will still have a say over how it is run.”
CLEAN, UNINTERRUPTED WATER SUPPLY
Among the issues raised during the public hearing was Baciwa’s ability to provide its concessionaires with clean, uninterrupted water supply, as well as the supposed “overcharging” in its billing.
Hinlo told DNX that personally, he is currently experiencing only one to three hours of really turbid water everyday provided by Baciwa.
“In our area, we have one to three hours of water everyday; it’s not even water that comes out but iced tea,” Hinlo says.
He said Baciwa general manager, lawyer Juliana Carbon admitted that there are certain areas where water supply is not available 24/7.
Meanwhile, Gamboa said that Baciwa acknowledged the “erroneous billing” it gave concessionaires erroneous billing, blaming it on a “computer glitch”. The councilor said the water district committed to address the overcharging by adjusting the excess on the July billing.