“I call on the MWSS and Manila Water to immediately set up the mechanisms to guarantee that the fines imposed will result in actual compensation or consumer rebates to the thousands of households in the metro which were severely affected by the lack of water supply,” Hontiveros said.
Michael Varcas
‘Make sure affected households benefit from water fines’
Cecille Suerte Felipe, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and Manila Water Inc. should make sure households that were forced to go waterless for weeks would benefit from the P1.13-billion fines imposed on the Ayala-led water concessionaire for serious service lapses, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said yesterday.

“I call on the MWSS and Manila Water to immediately set up the mechanisms to guarantee that the fines imposed will result in actual compensation or consumer rebates to the thousands of households in the metro which were severely affected by the lack of water supply,” Hontiveros said.

She also welcomed Manila Water’s commitment to pay the fine in acknowledgement of its failure to fulfill its obligation to provide uninterrupted water supply to its customers, mostly in Metro Manila and Rizal province.

“Kaya naman pala kung gugustuhin (It can be done after all, if there’s a will),” Hontiveros said, referring to MWSS’s sanctioning the water firm.

MWSS’s getting tough on Manila Water was a far cry from its earlier position that it has no power to hold erring concessionaires accountable for contract breach and other lapses.

“This is clear proof that government regulatory agencies have ample power to compel concessionaires of public services to effectively serve the public’s needs and penalize them when they fail to do so,” she said.

“This is a lesson to our regulatory bodies. I hope that in the future, they will do their job appropriately and expeditiously, stop making excuses and cease from acting only when public opinion is already stacked against them,” Hontiveros pointed out.

She pointed out that Article 10, Section 10.4 of the government’s concession agreement with Manila Water states that “all penalties received by the Regulatory Office pursuant to this Section 10.4 shall be rebated to customers affected by the concessionaire’s failure to meet service.”

“I hope that the government will ensure that it is the families who had to endure the lack of water supply during this hot summer season who will benefit the most from the fines imposed on Manila Water, in compliance with basic principles of equity and justice,” Hontiveros said.

Sen. Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public services, said the public has long waited for the imposition of the penalties and the MWSS should provide a copy of their computation.        

She said it was clear in the Manila Water contract there must be 24/7 availability of potable water for its customers.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said it was about time the government tightens its grip on public service utilities.

“We are glad that the MWSS Board and the MWSS-Regulatory Office have heeded our call to impose penalties on Manila Water for its failure to abide by its obligations under the Concession Agreement to provide 24/7 water service,” Sen. Joel Villanueva said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the amount should benefit and go directly to consumers inconvenienced by the water interruptions.  – With Jess Diaz, Elizabeth Marcelo, Delon Porcalla

 

MANILA WATER METROPOLITAN WATERWORKS AND SEWERAGE SYSTEM
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