Opposition Senate bets: Slap fines on Manila Water over water supply cuts
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senatorial bets on Wednesday said fines must be imposed on Manila Water Co. over its water service interruptions that affected thousands of people in Metro Manila and parts of Rizal province.
Former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said Manila Water should be fined since it has been collecting fees from its customers for the expansion of its facilities, which according to him, is not happening.
“Sa ating concessionaires, parati po silang sumisingil para sa kanilang mga expansion. Dito natin nakikita na yung sinasabi nilang expansion ay hindi naman yata nangyayari,” Tañada said in a press conference.
“Kaya ang importante ay mabigyan ng fine lalung-lalo na ngayon na ‘yung Manila Water. May kapangyarihan naman ang MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) na magbigay ng fine,” he added.
It was learned during a Senate hearing on Tuesday that Manila Water had collected fees from its customers for the Cardona water treatment plant in Rizal province even before its construction in 2016 started.
The MWSS also clarified during the hearing that it could impose penalties against Manila Water but they will wait until June or July to come up with a decision.
“Sabi ng MWSS, dapat hanggang June or July pa (‘yung penalty) dahil kailangan daw po may due process,” Tañada said.
“Ang tanong nung nawalan ng tubig binigyan ba ng due proces ang taumbayan?,” he asked.
Tañada added that government could already take action in making Manila Water accountable for the water shortage, pointing out that government could give the east zone concessionaire a show cause letter.
“Bigyan po ng show cause letter ang Manila Water para magpaliwanag bakit hindi po sila kailangan mabigyan ng penalty sa nangyaring pagbaba o pagkawala ng tubig dito sa east zone ng Metro Manila,” Tañada said.
Meanwhile, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said Manila Water should consider the possibility of giving “credits” to their customers who have been affected by the water shortage.
“As part of their corporate social responsibility, they (Manila Water) should think about the possibility of providing credits doon sa ating mga mamamayan, as a gesture, also as an apology,” Hilbay said.
He also pointed out that amid the water situation in Metro Manila, the creation of a Department of Water should also be considered.
‘Yung naging problema dito highlights the need to create a Department of Water dahil halu-halo ‘yung problema,” Hilbay said.
“Alam natin na kapag tayo ay nawalan ng tubig talagang malaking problema ng lahat,” he added.
Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, for her part, said there should be “some form of compensation” for those affected by the water shortage, whether from the government or from Manila Water.
“There should be some form of compensation for those who were affected,” Gutoc said.
“Ang tubig po ay buhay, at kung wala ito o kulang, mahirap po ang ating pamumuhay,” she added.
Gutoc did not specify as to the form of the compensation but insisted that it should be sufficient to outweigh the inconvenience caused by the water shortage. However, Gutoc pointed out that if the people suffered because of mismanagement, “then terminations are in order.”
“I am not sure of the form of compensation but one thing to me is clear: there should be one to indemnify people for the immeasurable inconvenience it has caused them,” Hilbay said.
“Water is a utility and a resource that we cannot live without. If people suffer because of mismanagement, then terminations are in order,” she added.
Meanwhile, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano questioned the construction of the Kaliwa Dam which is funded by China, raising its implication to the country’s national security if China would handle the project.
“Kapag nilagay natin sa kamay sa magiging kalaban natin o kalaban na natin ngayon, yung construction ng critical infrastructure, pag piniga tayo lahat. wala na tayong laban,” Alejano said.
“Yun lang naman ang concern ko, ‘yung national security implication of the construction of Kaliwa Dam,” he added. /muf
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