WATER CRISIS, IMPENDING TOLL AND POWER HIKES HIGHLIGHT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN CABINET
Alexander Martin Remollino
The crisis in water supply which has recently broken out in Metro Manila, as well as impending increases in toll fees and power rates, have underscored conflicts of interest haunting some of the appointees to the cabinet of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Reports of zero water supply in several barangays serviced by Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company are rife. More than a million residents of some 120 barangays in Metro Manila and Cavite, which fall under the service area of the two big companies, are affected.
Meanwhile, an increase in toll rates is scheduled to be implemented at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) by the middle of August.
The Lopez-owned Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has also recently filed a petition for a power rates increase.
The public utilities – water, toll roads, telecommunications, and power – are often contentious areas insofar as the crafting and implementation of policy are concerned. These are areas in which the interests of big business and the needs and welfare of consumers often come into conflict. It is thus important that those appointed to head government agencies that deal with the public utilities be in a position to decide fairly when it comes to dealing with such conflicts.
Three of the cabinet appointments Aquino made have recently aroused controversy, as these involve people who were named to head public utility-concerned agencies – even as they also have obvious ties to big business... READ FULL ARTICLE