DOJ chief: Consumers may file civil cases vs Manila Water
MANILA, Philippines — Civil cases may be filed by consumers and businesses heavily affected by the water service interruption in Metro Manila and nearby areas against the Manila Water Company Inc., Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.
“If there is showing of fault or negligence on the part of Manila Water and if it is established that this crisis is caused not by natural causes of force majeure (unforeseeable circumstance), then affected consumers may file damage suits individually,” Guevarra said.
The DOJ chief explained that the evidence of fault or negligence on the part of the water concessionaire must first be established before any possible civil suit could be filed.
“There must be evidence of this fault or negligence before one can file a civil complaint. This evidence must then be presented to the court during the trial,” he said.
However, Guevarra said a class suit may not work.
“It can’t be a class suit because each one may be differently affected or damaged by the same act or omission on the part of Manila Water, if any and if indeed shown to be tortious,” he said.
Guevarra issued the statement following the Senate’s announcement that it will investigate the crisis.
The Senate’s public services committee, chaired by reelectionist Sen. Grace Poe, has scheduled a hearing on March 19.
Manila Water, which services the National Capital Region’s east zone, has cut supply in several areas, saying the El Niño phenomenon caused the water level at La Mesa Dam, its emergency water source, to drop.
But its counterpart, Maynilad, has no problem with water supply.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has issued a statement saying that Manila Water sources its water from Angat Dam, which has not reached the critical level of 195 meters.
The Ayala-led water concessionaire claimed that it had already maximized its water allocation of 1,600 million liters per day (MLD) from the Angat Dam as demand peaked at 1,700 MLD. /ee
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