ONE of the bulk suppliers of Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) is seeking a franchise from the local government that will allow it to establish, operate, and maintain a water supply system in Iloilo City.
The Villar-led Prime Water is already a bulk water supplier of MIWD alongside FLO Water Resources Inc. of the Florete family.
MIWD and South Balibago Resources, Inc. (SBRI) are the two water distributors in the city.
Prime Water followed the move of SBRI in seeking a franchise via the Iloilo City Council.
Based on its draft ordinance, Prime Water said that the Sangguniang Panlungsod has the mandate to provide basic services and facilities like adequate water supply systems to its constituents under the Local Government Code of the Philippines.
“Iloilo City has been suffering from severe impacts of water crisis as manifested in the numerous declarations by the city government of Iloilo placing the city under the state of calamity in 2007, 2012, and 2015,” Prime Water said.
Prime Water added that majority of the people of Iloilo City have expressed dissatisfaction with the current water system in the city citing its poor quality of service, recurrent water shortages, and a significant percentage of unserved areas in some district.
In addition, Prime Water said it is willing and capable of addressing the need of Iloilo City by providing better, more, efficient, and adequate water supply and distribution system covering all households and other establishment within the city.
On November 14, 2018 the Sangguniang Panglungsod chaired by Councilor Plaridel Nava organized a public hearing in relation to the franchise application of Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation.
Nava emphasized that they are still determining if the local government has the authority to issue such franchise.
“We have to make a decision if we will grant the franchise or not? Do we have the authority to do so?
That is the only contention that we have to tackle,” said Nava.
Nava added that he is awaiting the position papers of the different stakeholders involved such as the Iloilo Economic and Development Foundation, Prime Water, MIWD, Iloilo Business and consumers’ groups to be evaluated by his committee.
Meanwhile, MIWD emphasized that they are not opposing the entry of new players.
“We don’t oppose Prime Water’s investments. We oppose the manner of their franchise application,” said MIWD corporate secretary Cyril Regalado.
Regalado stressed that Department of Interior and Local Government has declared that the city cannot issue franchises to private water suppliers.
“The DILG has declared in an opinion that the city cannot grant franchises related to water distribution.
It is in the Constitution and Supreme Court Rulings that LGUs have limited franchising authority ,” he added.
Instead, Prime Water should apply for a joint venture in the same way that MIWD forged a joint venture with the Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp (MWIC), Regalado said.