MWSS exec says agency exercised caution amid crisis to protect public welfare
MANILA, Philippines — An official from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has claimed that their careful stance on the Manila Water’s service interruption issue was meant to avoid jeopardizing public interest.
In a briefing on Monday after groups lodged a complaint against the Manila Water, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty explained that he was merely giving the water concessionaire due process to avoid being on the losing end in arbitration.
“Hindi po pwede na sabihin na lang na, common sense lang (‘yong violation dahil) walang tubig. You have to prove it na meron, kailangang i-document ‘yan, kaya nga po naka-document po lahat ‘yan para hindi ho tayo mabutasan,” Ty told reporters inside the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO).
“Lahat ng decision ng RO, ‘pag ayaw nila, pwede nilang i-dispute sa appeals panel. ‘Yan po ang mechanism ng concession agreement, what if sabihin ko ganito, eh ayaw pala?” he asked.
According to Ty, they have taken necessary steps in discussing possible actions that Manila Water may consider to pay back affected Metro Manila residents. One is serving a Notice asking the company to elaborate on why it should not be penalized for supposedly breaching the concessionaire agreement.
However, he emphasized that their actions should not prompt the company to take the case in an arbitration court, where MWSS may lose due to technicalities.
“We are very careful, medyo ingat po tayo sa ating mga sinasabi kaya po hindi ko agad ina-accuse ang Manila Water na guilty or prejudging them or saying anything inflammatory dahil pwede po itong dalhin sa arbitration,” Ty noted.
“If motu propio or bara-bara ko lang ginawa ‘yong penatly, mag-aappeal talaga ‘yan, mananalo sila eh. Pero kapag ginawa kong dahan-dahan, ginawa kong step-by-step, anong magagawa nila, mananalo tayo. ‘Wag po tayo magpadala sa init ng ulo […] matatalo tayo ‘don eh,” he added
He also said that there was a similar case in the past where MWSS lost in the arbitration case because the panel ruled that the management was biased against a water concessionaire.
“‘Yon po ang nangyari dati. Dinala po tayo sa arbitration, eh medyo maanghang ang mga salita ng dati(ng officials), so ginamit po sa atin ‘yon. So sana po maintindihan ng mga tao kung bakit ako hindi masyadong strong na binabanatan ‘yong mga concessionaires, hindi po pwede, regulator po ako eh,” he added.
Ty previously drew flak, especially from opposition senatorial candidates, for allegedly not doing his job as MWSS regulator. In a hearing at the House of Representatives last week, he and other MWSS officials were on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from lawmakers dissatisfied with Manila Water’s service.
Earlier, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr., and other Manila Water consumers asked the MWSS to order the implementation of rebates for Manila Water consumers, in respect to the inconvenience that water interruption brought.
Several households experienced water interruptions in different periods this March, as water levels at La Mesa Dam — Manila Water’s source of water — went down. The water concessionaire’s management told authorities that the situation may normalize by around May or up to early August in some areas.
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