Entire Metro Manila seen grinding to a halt as 2 water firms ready massive diggings
The whole of Metro Manila is likely to suffer from simultaneous massive diggings by two water concessionaires—Maynilad and Manila Water—any time this year as a result of a Supreme Court order for the two companies to finish their sewage projects soon or pay a daily fine of more than P300,000 until full compliance.
In a statement, the group BK3 said if the two concessionaires were given no choice but comply with the high court order, “the public will suffer even more with nightmare traffic.”
The SC order, the group added, would also increase water rates by as much as P16 more per cubic meter as the two concessionaires try to recoup hundreds of billons of pesos needed on rushing the sewage projects. “We consumers, will get a double whammy,” said BK3 convenor Louie Montemar in the statement.
The two concessionaires had expressed surprise at the SC ruling and readiness to comply but were appealing for a review of the decision which was likely to require a rush in expenditures that they would be forced to pass on to consumers.
Manila Water and Maynilad had filed an appeal for the Supreme Court to revert to its 2011 ruling which gave them more time to complete the sewage projects.
The new ruling reversed an earlier decision, also by the Supreme Court, that allowed the concessionaires to finish their sewage projects until 2037, or in 18 years, instead of just five years.
“The new ruling will penalize all of us, including businesses and the economy. And who is the beneficiary? We see no one. So why cause pain when it is unnecessary and reverse the 2037 deadline which makes a whole lot of sense?” Montemayor said.
He said the scenario would simply be horrendous—aggravated traffic jams leading to businesses screeching to a halt, an economy stunted and a people being punished. The P3.4 billion in daily losses due to road bottlenecks, estimated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, would double at least, he said.
The new SC ruling said the concessionaires violated Sec. 8 of the Clean Water Act that required them to connect all existing sewer lines of households, subdivisions and establishments by 2009, or five years from the time the law took effect.
For failing to comply, the concessionaires were also fined almost P1 billion each, representing daily fines from 2009 to August 2019.
But in 2011, the Supreme Court gave the concessionaires up to 2037 to comply, in effect extending the 2009 deadline because various government agencies tasked by the law with preparatory work had failed to comply.
A condition set by the SC decision was for Metro Manila local government units to provide land for the sewage projects. The Department of Public Works and Highways was tasked by the SC with drawing up an overall plan.
“To protect public interest, the 2037 deadline must prevail and be followed,” BK3 added./TSB
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