“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” W. H. Auden
By Alex P. Vidal
Water and the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) are supposed to be like Siamese twins: inseparable.
Without MIWD there is no water. Without water there is no MIWD. At least that’s how most Ilonggo concessionaires think in as far as the water system in Iloilo is concerned for almost 50 years now.
MIWD produces potable water in the households, offices and farms. Consumers pay for the water supply. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. They maintain this type of symbiotic relationship.
Just like Panay Electric Company (PECO) and electricity, services are smooth and uninterrupted if consumers don’t renege on the payment of their monthly bills. There is no public uproar and restlessness if there are no frequent power outages and atrocious hidden fees. Simple logic.
But public perception for MIWD has changed critically. Irate consumers have grown tired of its inefficiency and lackadaisical services that MIWD is not anymore indispensable in their eyes.
Consumers have realized that there would still be life, after all, even without MIWD. They are not anymore afraid to kick MIWD in the butt and tell MIWD straight in the face to get lost!
When the faucets stopped producing water last June 14 and 15 because MIWD failed to settle the partial payment of its debt worth P2.7 million to its bulk water supplier, Flo Water Resources Iloilo, Inc., the patience of consumers reached the tipping point. Enough is enough.
Picking up the cudgels for the distraught consumers, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who are water consumers themselves, uncorked the heaviest verbal barrage never uttered before by high-ranking local leaders in recent memory.
Trenas, a many-time referee of MIWD internal squabbles, has called for the privatization of the water utility firm. He feared the worst for the consumers if MIWD’s management was not privatized. He has no more love lost for MIWD owing probably to his love for his constituents and, perhaps, to his love for Dr. Rogelio Florete, Jr., his business associate and owner of Flo Water Resources Iloilo, Inc.
Trenas wanted MIWD to adapt to the paradigm shift of water management in the modern world. There is no room for inefficiency, sloppiness and ineptitude in a privatized MIWD, Trenas thought.
Mabilog, on the other hand, wanted to dissolve the MIWD. He wants water consumers in the city to look for their own water distribution system and not to anymore rely on the decrepit MIWD.
He has given up on MIWD’s series of demagoguery. Both city leaders fear MIWD’s lousy services will delay Iloilo City’s march to progress and development. Investors would never risk a long-term investment in a city that can’t quench the thirst of its residents even during rainy season.
The hostile reactions of both Trenas and Mabilog were enough proof that Iloilo City is willing to let go of MIWD after years of mutual co-existence and relationship. Somebody has to pack up and leave. A divorce is inevitable.