MWSS to tackle ‘force majeure’ defense of concessionaires on water shortage
MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) will look into the “force majeure” defense of Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. over the worsening water shortage hounding Metro Manila, its Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said Tuesday.
The two water concessionaires submitted a “notice of force majeure” as a defense to the recent water woes, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester Ty told the House committees on Metro Manila development, public works and highways, and natural resources during their oversight hearing.
The notice, “which under the concession agreement, suspends some portions of their service obligations,” would be tackled and decided upon by the MWSS Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Ty said.
“But we reiterated to them that they’re not exempted from all obligations… We repeatedly told concessions to follow the requirement to provide notices to the public or else this could be a violation to the agreement,” he added.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio denounced the water utilities’ defense of force majeure. The clause is usually found in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restrict participants from fulfilling obligations, according to business site Investopedia.
“Hindi po katanggap-tanggap ang position ng concessionaires na force majeure… Nilikha po ng tao ang problemang ito… [dahil sa] kapalpakan ng MWSS at iba pang ahensya,” Tinio said.
“Hindi dapat ma-exempt ang concessionaires from the penalty and rebates for dalawang buwan at least na water interruption,” the party-list lawmaker added.
Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, who presided over the discussion, backed Tinio.
“Sumasang-ayon po kay congressman Tinio ang representasyon na ito, hindi rin ako naniniwala na act of God ang nangyaring ‘yan. Kakulangan natin ‘yan bilang gobyerno na ibigay sa taumbayan ‘yung wastong serbisyo,” he said.
The MWSS in April slapped a P1.134 billion fine against the Manila Water over the water shortage that affected residents of Metro Manila and Rizal in March. Some of their customers also received rebates.
The water utilities had repeatedly attributed the disruption in their water supply to the decreasing water level in Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s primary source of water. Angat’s water level was measured at 158.77 meters at 6:00 a.m.on Tuesday, below the critical level of 160 meters. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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