MWSS Chief Regulator: No power to punish Manila Water over supply woes

Robie de Guzman   •   March 18, 2019   •   2604

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said on Monday (March 18) that it has no power to punish the Manila Water Company, Inc. even if it violated its obligation to provide uninterrupted water services to its consumers.

“Based on the terms of concession agreement, Manila Water has violated their mandate to provide 24/7 water,” MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said during a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Metro Manila Development on Monday.

However, Ty said the MWSS has no power to hold the water concessionaire accountable because the concessionaire agreement provides no penal provision authorizing the Regulatory office to impose any fines.

“What will happen is that we can take this up in the fifth rate rebasing, which will happen in 2022,” Ty said.

“That is why the MWSS has been repeatedly requesting Congress to petition for a Department of Water and a water regulatory commission to allow the imposing of these fines and penalties,” he added.

The MWSS chief regulator’s statement was in response to some solons’ call to penalize Manila Water over the water shortage that hit parts of Metro Manila and Rizal Province for more than a week now.

Caloocan 2nd District Edgar ‘Egay’ Erice said Manila Water should have sounded the alarm over the looming water shortage in eastern Metro Manila since the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued an El Niño advisory as early as January this year.

“Kung sensitive kayo sa problema ng mga consumers nyo, dapat January pa lang humingi na kayo ng tulong,” Erice admonished.

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, on the other hand, contradicted Ty’s statement, insisting that the MWSS has the authority to punish Manila Water.

Tinio cited Section 10.4 of the Concession Agreement between the MWSS and Manila Water Company, Inc. which states that “failure by the concessionaire meet any service obligation which continues for more than 60 days (or 15 days in cases where the failure could adversely affect public health or welfare) after written notice thereof from the Regulatory Office to the Concessionaire shall constitute a basis for the Regulatory Office to assess financial penalties against the concessionaires.”

“The amount of such penalty shall be equal to 25% of the costs that, in the reasonable opinion of the Regulatory Office, the concessionaire will incur in order to meet the service obligation in question; provided, however, that if the Concessionaire does not meet such service obligation within 180 days, the amount of the penalty shall be equal to 50% of such costs,” the contract read.

“Napakalinaw po ng sinasabi dito (kontrata). Ang sabi n’ya (Ty) kailangan pa tayo maghintay ng rebasing ng kanilang rate in five years bago masingil ‘yung penalty. Napakalinaw dito na after 15 days, kung di pa nila maayos, pwede na kayo mag-impose ng penalty,” Tinio said.

“We will revisit that again,” Ty said in response to Tinio’s prodding, arguing that the penalty could apply on the next rate rebasing in 2022.

To address the issue, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said there might be a need for a new law that would give more authority to MWSS to punish erring concessionaires.

“Perhaps in the law, we have to add a penalty for those who failed to comply with some parts of the concession agreement,” Arroyo said.

Manila Water President Ferdinand dela Cruz, meanwhile, expressed willingness to face penalties and all the responsibility for the ongoing water shortage in eastern Metro Manila.

“Whatever the accountability for this issue takes me as President of Manila Water, I am willing to take that accountability,” he said.

Cruz also assured that consumers hit with water interruptions will soon find relief as their water supply continues to increase.

However, he said the water supply is expected to go back to normal by the month of May. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Grace Casin)

Maynilad announces water service interruptions for March

Marje Pelayo   •   March 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Maynilad announced the latest schedule of water service interruptions for March 2020 due to the decreasing water level at Ipo Dam.

Maynilad explained that Ipo’s water level fell short of its maintaining level of 101 meters due to minimal runoffs from Ipo watershed in recent days.

This is despite allocation of raw water from Angat Dam remaining at 42 cubic meters per second.

Thus, Maynilad advises its customers to take note of the assigned schedule of rotational service interruptions for this month.

“Asahan ang mas mahigpit na pagpapatupad nito sa mga susunod na araw hangga’t hindi tumataas ang water elevation sa Ipo Dam (Expect strict implementation of the scheduled service interruptions in the coming days until water elevation at Ipo Dam improves),” Maynilad’s advisory said.

For this reason, the water concessionaire reminds affected residents to conserve water and store enough amount for domestic needs. (Complete list HERE.)

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)

Maynilad reduces hours of water interruption in affected areas

Marje Pelayo   •   November 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Maynilad customers can relax a bit as the water concessionaire announced shorter hours of water service interruptions.

Maynilad said recent days of rainshowers helped in replenishing water supply in Ipo Dam.

“Twenty percent of our customers have interruptions of about 8 to 10 hours. But that is starting to reduce because of the rains that came in but we don’t know for how long again,” explained Maynilad President and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez.

Around nine million households in the West Zone of Metro Manila depend on Maynilad for water supply especially if water supply becomes thin during the dry season when Angat Dam fails to replenish as predicted by the state weather service PAGASA.

According to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), they just limited the allocation so as not to deplete the supply in Angat Dam.

“Wala naman tayong (There is no) water crisis. We are just making sure that water crisis last March will not happen anymore,” said MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat.

Meanwhile, the MWSS is pushing measures to protect Laguna Lake from pollution.

“We have just proposed protection and preservation of our Laguna Lake and declare it as a vital source of our domestic freshwater supply,” Salamat said.

So far, Maynilad has treatment plants that generate water from Laguna Lake and supplies to 310 million liters of water daily to its customers.

According to Fernandez, Laguna Lake can produce the volume of domestic water being supplied by the Angat Dam.

Laguna Lake is over 90,000 hectares in area which is larger than Singapore.

“To my mind, Laguna Lake is the biggest body of water that can supply Metro Manila and even the surrounding provinces like Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal,” he explained.

According to Maynilad, though Laguna Lake is used for fishery, it should primarily serve as a source of water for domestic use. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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