Bayan Muna files complaint vs Manila Water

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 25, 2019   •   1843

Members of the Bayan Muna party-list

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Bayan Muna Partylist has filed a complaint at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) against Manila Water over weeks of water interruptions.

In a 20-page petition, the group wants Manila Water customers to no longer pay their bill this March. Affected residents should also receive compensation due to the difficulties they have experienced amid the water shortage.

“Ang gastos nila sa mga nakaraang linggo para lang makabili ng drum mga timba, makabili ng bottled water ay napakalaki kumpara doon sa kanilang average monthly bills, (Their expenses last week just to buy a drum of water or bottled water is too much compared to their average monthly bills)” Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes said.

The group also wants the MWSS and Manila Water to conduct a public hearing where consumers can have an opportunity to be heard.

Aside from Bayan Muna, Jose Gallego a resident of Mandaluyong City also personally filed a complaint at the MWSS.

“Akala namin hanggang apat na araw lang, inabot pa kami ng isang linggo. Iyong tatay ko nga hindi na naidala sa ospital dahil dapat may therapy siya tatlong beses sa isang linggo. Ang nangyari hindi ko nadadala dito sa polymedic dahil pati polymedic walang tubig, (We thought it will only take four days, but it lasted a week. We were not able to bring our father to the hospital, he was supposed to have his therapy. It should be three times a week but even the Polymedic [General Hospital] is out of water)” he said.

MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said they will review the basis of the filed petition.

The MWSS and the officials of Manila Water held a meeting to determine the assistance they can provide to affected customers and whether they could suspend distribution of billing charges for March.

They also discussed about the possibility of a refund but it might still need to undergo a thorough process.

“Kasi hindi pa tayo sigurado. Ayaw kong sabihin na guilty sila baka sabihin naman ng Manila na prejudged na sila. Hindi ko po sila pine-prejudge. Klaro lang, hindi ko po sasabihin na kailangan po silang mag-rebate, pinag-aaralan lang po natin yan, (We’re still uncertain, we cannot say they are guilty. Manila Water might say they are being prejudged. I am doing no such thing. I am not saying they need to rebate, we are still reviewing it)” Ty said.

The MWSS already issued a Notice to Explain to Manila Water regarding the possibility of receiving penalty due to the water interruptions. Manila is given five days to respond.

The MWSS aims to come up with a decision by June if they will impose penalty against Manila Water or not. Meanwhile, the Manila Water still has no comment on the possible penalty or refund.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Joan Nano)

Panelo to recommend review of UP-Ayala Technohub contract to Pres. Duterte

Maris Federez   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to also review the contract of the University of the Philippines-Diliman with the Ayala Land Incorporated for the conversion of a UP lot into UP-Ayala Land Technohub.

Panelo said that a study has come to his attention showing the very low lease amount that the Ayala group is paying to UP.

A number of business outsourcing firms, retail areas, campus apartments, and business hotels has occupied the Technohub that is now a popular hangout place in Quezon City.

The Palace official said he will recommend to the president a closer review of the lease contract to check the veracity of the report that the Ayala Land group is only paying UP just a little higher than Php20.00 per square meter for 25 years.

“Only 10.4 billion will be taken by the government at the end of 25 years […] mukhang kawawa na naman ang gobyerno dito,” said Panelo.

He added that should the claim in the report be true, it will cause so much loss for the government.

“Definitely lugi ang gobyerno dito,” he said.

The Ayala group, on the other hand, has denied the allegation of the very low rental fee.

It, however, welcomes whatever review that will be conducted on its lease contract with UP.

Aside from the Technohub, the President has also slammed Manila Water, the water concessionaire company under the Ayala Corporation due to its alleged onerous contract with the government. — (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Duterte threatens to arrest water tycoons Ayala, Pangilinan

Marje Pelayo   •   December 31, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to put in jail owners of water concessionaires for alleged “issue of corruption.”

Business tycoons Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala owns Manila Water Co. as its subsidiary while Manuel Pangilinan owns majority of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Duterte said he will have the two moguls arrested for “non-bailable” offenses of syndicated estafa or plunder following the two concessionaires’ alleged ‘onerous contracts’ with the government’s Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

“Si Ayala pati si Pangilinan, kapag nagkamali iyang mga gagong iyan, ipakukulong ko talaga sila,” Duterte said.

“Kita mo kahit anong insulto ko, hindi sumasagot. Sigurado swak sila sa syndicated estafa,” he added.

READ: Duterte threatens to file economic sabotage raps over ‘onerous’ water contracts

President Duterte during the height of the controversy earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two concessionaires for the alleged onerous concession deals. – MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Usec. Villar inhibits from review of water deals

Maris Federez   •   December 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar will not be joining the team that will review the contract entered into by the government with Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services through state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1997.

Villar on Friday (December 13) inhibited herself to dispel doubts and suspicions on the review to be conducted and the renegotiation of the government with the two water concessionaires.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was the one who requested Villar to inhibit from the review although he deemed it unfair that the official is being subjected to allegations of conflict of interest.

“I requested Usec. Villar to inhibit herself to dispel suspicions that the DOJ contract review may not be completely objective due to an alleged possible conflict of interest. It’s unfair to Usec Villar who has always acted with professionality, but the circumstances call for it.,” Guevarra told reporters.

Guevarra reiterated that any lawyer who would look into the contract between the MWSS and the two water concessionaires would come to the same findings and conclusion — that the deal had been onerous for the government and the public.

Villar, a former Diwa Party-list representative and daughter of former national police chief Edgar Aglipay, is the wife of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. Villar’s family runs Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. — /mbmf

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