Monday, December 06, 2010

Too big to beg

NOT much of a showman, so much of a shaman… who dances up storms amidst summer’s blowtorch spell using killer moves in hung gar and taekkyon… and pays homage to a vast body of water at the onset of each new year with the flimsy excuse that over 70% of his brains and body is aqueous…

Ji-Heun Yun, Asian Development Bank water resources management specialist reckoned he had found a sounding board, maybe a kindred spirit when he plied me with drinks on that drizzly night at, a Makati watering hole for admen, madmen, a menagerie of cranks and he-men out to spill semen.

He wanted to be heard… why, ADB likely had full backing on the $440.8-million takeover of a Korean water firm on the 218-megawatt hydroelectric power plant component of Angat Dam in Bulacan—which provides over 90% of Metro Manila’s water supply.

In May 24, the Supreme Court plied an order preventing the sale and transfer of the Angat facility to winning bidder Korea Water Resources Development Corp. or K-Water, a firm wholly owned and controlled by the South Korean government.

State-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM)—tasked by RA 9136, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA to privatize all the assets of the National Power Corp., including the Angat hydroelectric power plant--conducted the auction last January 11, 2010.

First Gen Northern Energy Corp., San Miguel Corp., SN Aboitiz Power-Pangasinan, Inc., Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp., and DMCI Power Corp. submitted bids but lost to an odd-man out, K-Water.

However, a bevy of stakeholders point out the auction was done in secrecy—such niceties as the Filipino people’s right to information, right to water, PSALM's mandate and certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution were dumped.

Too, stakeholders are clueless on K-Water and would likely dismiss such corporate name as an “iskwater” on Philippine soil.

K-Water would have to replicate a feat for its homeland, daily providing about 50% of South Korea’s tap water as of 2007, or so we heard. Such a service area may likely be 10 times bigger than that served by Angat—no big deal for a country whose freshwater reserves are stored as unthawed snow up in the mountains.

No such glacier reservoirs hereabouts— the nearly barren Sierra Madre range can hardly store rainfall in underground springs and aquifers that feed streams flowing into Angat… water shortages and power outages in the dry season are here to stay. What can K-Water do, grow canopy type forests upstream, do in every swidden cropper and logger on sight?

They tell me the outfit is using satellites and (in South Korea) put up “environmental infrastructure in the upper reaches of dams and environmental conservation activities.” Too, surface freshwater source quality control is ensured by “managing sewage treatment plants consigned by local governments.” (Uh, even Manila Water and Maynilad have been remiss on such task.)

As for corporate track record, reports have it K-Water has built 15 multi-purpose dams since the 1960s… and is at it building “eco-friendly small and medium-sized dams (plus) development of water resources technology involving deep ocean water, ground water and desalination.”

There. Here’s hoping the powers-that-be in our neck of the woods heard the water resources management specialist…

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