EcoWaste Coalition to Water Regulators and Water Companies: “Water is a consumer and human right”

As millions of Manila Water customers continue to suffer from water scarcity, a waste and pollution watch group appealed to water resource regulators as well as to water companies to ensure public access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water supply.

In a press statement coinciding with today’s observance of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the role of public authorities and private corporations as duty bearers in guaranteeing people’s access to water

“As duty bearers, we urge water agencies and companies to do everything that is necessary to alleviate the sufferings of those affected by the water shortage.  We join our citizens, as right holders, in reminding those responsible for realizing our human right to water to find a long-lasting solution to our water woes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

In reference to the P18.7 billion Kaliwa Dam project in the Sierra Madre to be funded by China, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated that any solution to the water scarcity being faced by water consumers in the East Zone of Metro Manila should not disrespect the rights of other right holders, particularly the indigenous peoples (IPs).

“We are one with the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance and the IP communities in seeking the genuine restoration of watersheds and forests and in opposing all destructive development projects, especially the construction of new mega-dams, within the Sierra Madre,” Dizon added.

Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, Spokesperson of the Commission on Human Rights, yesterday said that:   “In finding a resolution to this problem, we hope that ways forward would always be mindful of the rights of others, such as those of IP communities in developing dams, and would always to the benefit of the majority of Filipinos.”

In asserting the people’s right to water, the EcoWaste Coalition cited Resolution 64/292 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 explicitly recognizing the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledging that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

The group also cited the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the 2015 UN Summit, which includes Goal No. 6 that seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Water, which is a basic entitlement of all people, should be, according to the United Nations:

Sufficient: The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.”

Safe: The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person's health.”

Acceptable: Water should be of an acceptable color, odor and taste for each personal or domestic use, and all water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.”

Physically accessible: Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution.”

Affordable: Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.”