Stop Angat Dam privatization: Presidentiables dared to prove independence from big business interests

Water for the People Network | Among the interested buyers of the Angat HEPP are some of the most politically influential business groups in the country and perceived backers of some presidentiables

Advocacy group Water for the People Network (WPN) today challenged presidential candidates to prove that they are not beholden to big business interests and issue a categorical statement that they will not allow the privatization of the Angat Dam and undermine people’s access to water.

The group issued the statement as the deadline for the submission of bids for the 246-megawatt (MW) Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) ends today.

The WPN noted that among the interested buyers of the Angat HEPP are some of the most politically influential business groups in the country and perceived backers of some presidentiables including Danding Cojuangco’s San Miguel Corp., the Lopez family’s First Gen Corp., the Ayala Group, Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Corp., Aboitiz Power Corp., and the Consunjis’s DMCI Power Corp.

“We need an assurance, especially from the leading presidential contenders, that they will protect the human right to water and not the private business interests wanting to control Angat Dam’s hydropower facilities. Whoever controls the hydropower facilities controls the flow and allocation of water from the dam,” the WPN said.

According to the WPN, the issue of people’s access to water for basic uses will be a recurring problem that the next administration will face. The group said that droughts, such as the current El Niño, will be more intense due to climate change and will further limit available freshwater supply for domestic use and irrigation.

The group added that the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the body tasked to privatize Angat Dam, should not rush its privatization and at least wait until a new president takes over.

“Aside from its serious impact on people’s access to water, the privatization will also be conducted in the thick of the elections. It is for the interest of everyone that the PSALM exercises due prudence and allow the next administration to decide on the fate of Angat Dam,” said the group.

In an earlier statement, the WPN said that the privatization of the Angat HEPP will undermine the access to water for basic domestic use of some 14 million consumers in Metro Manila and several towns in the provinces of Rizal and Cavite. It will also threaten the use of water from Angat Dam for the irrigation needs of some 28,000 farmers in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.

As an alternative, the WPN proposes that government’s water agencies take the lead in managing the facilities of the Angat Dam with sufficient mechanisms that will allow multi-stakeholder participation (including consumers, farmers, non-government organizations, and concerned local government units) in the management of the dam. (end)

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