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Groups protest water rate hike

Members of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and Water System Employees Response (WATER) staged a picket protest outside the office of Metro-Manila Sewerage System (MWSS) in Balara, Quezon City to denounce the latest water rate hike by Maynilad and Manila Water Thursday, October 4.

According to Ferdinand Gaite, National President of COURAGE, Maynilad will increase its rates by approximately P5.73 per cubic meter while Manila Water will impose a P6.22-P6.55 per cubic meter hike in the next five years.

Customers of Manila Water (East zone concessionaire) will pay an additional P1.46 per cubic meter starting October 16 while Maynilad (West zone concessionaire) started a P0.90 per cubic meter increase last October 1.

Gaite also blames the rampant high prices of goods and services because of TRAIN Law (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) that added burdens to the water customers.

Meanwhile Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate will file a resolution seeking the lower house to fast track the probe to stop water hike by legislating and forwarding measures to protect consumers.

He cited the anomalies happen in 2012 where giant water firms collected in advance for future projects.

This included the P45 billion Laiban project and P5.4 billion Angat Dam Irrigation project.

Both projects were cancelled in 2010 but P6 billion worth of collections were already made in 2012. # (Video by Dave Galman / Report by Joseph Cuevas)

Former COURAGE organizers abducted in Bulacan Saturday

A human rights lawyer said the couple reported arrested by the Philippine National Police in Balagtas, Bulacan last Saturday were actually abducted and slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.

Atty. Kristina Conti said that Rowena and Oliver Rosales were simple former officials and organizers of the Confederation for the Unite, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and were not members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Absolute rubbish to call them NPA members. They are civilians, activists if you may, working in the cities and suburbs for change. Whatever charges alleging violence on their part will fail, as they already have against others,” Conti said on her Facebook account.

“Abductions like this are followed by trumped up charges. We’ve seen this many times before. Stop the ludicrous charges!” she added.

According to Conti, the Rosales couple were on their way home on board a tricycle from selling their wares at the Balagtas Public Market when abducted by five men who did not identify themselves as police and military personnel.

The couple were reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed before being dragged to a car.

It was only when they were taken to Camp Crame in Quezon City that the victims were informed of a warrant of arrest against them.

Their family only learned the couple was taken to Camp Crame when they inquired with the Balagtas Police that informed them it was the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that were looking for the couple.

The couple were taken to Bulacan Monday morning to face inquest proceedings, Conti told Kodao.

Conti said that couple are being charged with illegal possession of explosives.

“There was instant picture-taking of explosives yesterday [at Camp Crame],” Conti said.

Rowena is also charged with arson in Agusan, the lawyer added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Public sector workers protest over pay hike

Declaring a “Black Heart’s Day,” public sector workers trooped to Mendiola leading to Malacanang Palace in Manila to denounce Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad for the Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL 4) discriminating pay and benefits for the country’s 1.5 million government workers. Similar actions were held in Baguio, Angeles, Naga, Legazpi, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and other cities in the Philippines.