Manila Water to expedite pipe laying works to address supply woes

Robie de Guzman   •   April 1, 2019   •   1760

Manila Water lays out an 800-meter long pipe that will connect the municipalities of Taytay, Angono and Binangonan to its Cardona water treatment facility,

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Water Services Company is looking to expedite its ongoing pipe laying works along the stretch of Marcos Highway traversing the towns of Taytay, Angono and Binangonan in Rizal province.

The Manila Water targets to complete the laying of the 800-meter long pipe from the Cardona Water Treatment Facility this week.

The project is seen to address the shortage of water supply in parts of Rizal province and eastern Metro Manila, which were hit by water service interruptions last month.

Manila Water has earlier announced it will implement a one-time full bill waiver for consumers who were severely affected by the water service outage in March. This will be reflected on their April bill.

A partial list of areas validated as severely affected has been released by the company on Sunday. This include the Barangays of Addition Hills, Barangka Drive, Plainview, Highway Hills and Hulo in Mandaluyong; Kapitolyo, Bagong Ilog and Oranbo in Pasig; Upper Bicutan in Taguig and Mambog in Binangonan, Rizal.

READ: Manila Water releases list of areas to be given full bill waiver

Manila Water Spokesperson Jeric Sevilla said they are still working on the list of other areas that will avail of the full bill waiver program as the validation process is still ongoing.

“Kaya natin bina-validate kaya hindi natin mailabas yun [kumpletong listahan] kasi baka mamaya isipin ng mga tao na taga tandang sora ako so wala ako dapat bayaran hindi ganun,” Sevilla told UNTV News and Rescue in an interview.

(We cannot release it yet as we are still validating more areas. This is to prevent public misconception that because I live in Tandang Sora then I am covered by the full bill waiver. It’s not like that.)

Manila Water said around 152,000 households from 44 severely affected barangays will be given a full bill waiver for their March consumption.

The April bill will be fully waived if residents experienced water service outage for 24 hours for at least seven days.

Customers who experienced only a few hours of water interruption will still receive a waiver for the first 10 cubic meters of their March consumption, equivalent to P135, to be deducted in their April bill.

The voluntary, one-time bill waiver scheme was announced by the Manila Water last week to compensate thousands of their customers, whose taps ran dry last month.

But for Juliet Peraira, a Manila Water client in Barangay Mambog, Binangonan in Rizal, the program is not enough to recompense the struggles they had to face due to water service outage.

“Kaya hanggang ngayon nag-iipon pa rin kami ng tubig kasi hindi pa talaga totally may tubig. Minsan, wala pa rin tubig,” Peraira said.

(Until now, we are still storing water because the supply has yet to become stable.)

Allan Mesa, also a resident of Barangay Mambog, echoed Peraira’s sentiment.

“May tangke kami, kaso 3 days lang duration nun, ubos na rin kasi lima kaming gumagamit dito eh. Noong mawalan [ng tubig] hintay na lang kami ng truck nila [Manila Water],” Mesa said.

(We have a water tank but it can only store water for 3 days. Five people are using it so the water is swiftly depleted. When the water taps ran dry, we waited for their truck)

Lourdes Ocampo, on the other hand, was sourcing their family’s water supply from a deep well which became their neighborhood’s water source during the height of service outage.

“Hindi ko pinababayaran kasi tulong mo na lang yan dahil kung ako naman ang mawalan [ng tubig] nakiki ano [igib] rin ako ganun,” she said.

(I gave them water for free. In case I lose any water supply, I also fetch from them)

Barangay Mambog usually experiences low water pressure and supply due to its elevated position.

Manila Water is looking to address this by laying more pipes linking from their local water treatment facility in Cardona.

The company has apologized for the heavy traffic and other inconveniences due to the ongoing utility project.

Consumers may call Manila Water hotline number 1627 for any inquiry or complaint. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Mon Jocson)

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

DOJ denies conflict of interest in review of water concession deals

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday denied allegations of conflict of interest in the ongoing review of the water concession deal between the government of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The allegations surfaced following news reports that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was part of the team that reviewed the water supply agreements.

Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose family owns the Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation, one of the utility firms that may possibly become a player to replace Maynilad and Manila Water when their contract ends in 2022.

Guevarra said he does not know where these kinds of allegations came from. He also said that he led the review of water deals.

“Siyempre as SOJ, ako ang head ng review team at ginagamit ko diyan, nag-assist ng review, naturally legal staff ng DOJ. Sa office ng state counsel so sila ang nag-review niyan with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. So, yung units na yun, nagkataon lang under the supervision ni Usec. Emmeline Villar kasi may mga distribution ng work ng ng mga usecs ng DOJ,” he told reporters in an event in Manila Thursday morning.

Guevarra said the DOJ team found onerous provisions in the contracts signed in 1997 and recommended its removal as well as the crafting of new deal that would be advantageous to the public.

“Believe me when I say that any good lawyer will see the inequitable provisions in the water concession agreements, and the fact the Usec. Emmeline Villar is part of the DOJ review team is totally irrelevant,” he said.

Aglipay-Villar, a former congresswoman, also denied the allegations, adding that the DOJ conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Duterte paving the way for allies into the water industry? Nonsense! – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang vehemently denied alleged reason behind President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

Reports alleged that the Chief Executive is making a move to place his allies into the water industry.

“That’s nonsense. Si Presidente pa, walang ally-ally kay Presidente (That’s nonsense. Knowing the President, he doesn’t care for allies),” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The President earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two firms and their cohorts who were behind what he calls as onerous water concession agreements.

Such was his reaction after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore favored the water concessionaires against the government, ordering it to pay billions for not approving water rate increase under the previous administration.

The Palace scrutinized what seemed to be ‘unfair’ provisions of the water concession agreement including allegations that the government was giving the water concessionaires a cold shoulder and the intent to extend the agreement up to 2037 even prior to the contract’s expiration.

Malacañang opened the idea of a possible government take over only to ensure that water distribution service would not be cut in case none in the private sector intends to handle it.

“Initially government muna then most likely after that there will be biddings for a private company to take over,” Panelo said.

It was in 1997 when the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) signed water concession contracts with Manila Water Services Inc. and Maynilad.

It was a decision made after the government-owned facility delivered poor services and only a few investors were willing to invest their billions in improving the facility’s services which, Manila Water and Maynilad accepted through a bidding. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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