Excavations on major Metro Manila roads to mark holidays
MANILA, Philippines — Simultaneous road excavations will be done before end of the year and could mark the holiday season on Edsa, Commonwealth Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, Alabang-Zapote Road and C-5 by two water concessionaires ordered by the Supreme Court to finish sewage connections in five years instead of until 2037.
At least 1,000 kilometers of major and secondary roads in Metro Manila and surrounding areas, like Cavite and Rizal provinces, would be covered by diggings by Manila Water and Maynilad, which had been ordered by the high court to accelerate their sewage projects.
The two concessionaires had asked the high court to revert to an earlier decision that gave them a deadline of until 2037 to finish the sewage connections.
They said compelling them to do it in just five years would force them to spend billions of pesos more to cover additional costs of rushing the projects and could lead to an increase in water rates of as much as P16 per cubic meter.
The group Bantay Konsyumer, Kuryente, Kalsada (BK3), in a statement, said giving the water concessionaires no choice would “mean catastrophe for the public, businesses and the economy.”
“Traffic will be snarled that nothing will move,” said Louie Montemar, BK3 convenor, in the statement. “The worst part is it doesn’t benefit anyone,” he said.
Last August, the Supreme Court in a ruling penalized Manila Water and Maynilad P912 million each for unfinished sewage projects by May 2009 under the Clean Water Act.
They were also fined P322,102 per day until full compliance, meaning until they finish the projects.
Montemar said the effects of the two concessionaries heeding the high court ruling would be horrendous—jobs will be lost and the economy would shrink.
“The country is at the losing end,” he said, noting that the August ruling was a sharp turnaround from a 2011 ruling also by the high court giving the two concessionaires until 2037 to finish their sewage projects.
“The 2011 ruling recognized that the 2009 deadline was impractical and impossible to meet,” said Montemar.
Preparatory work by government agencies required for the projects had not been done. One of the requirements was for the Department of Public Works and Highways to prepare a national plan of work to coordinate the diggings and set priorities.
Local governments in Metro Manila were also ordered to provide land.
But without these, “how can one build?” Montemar said.
He added that returning to the 2011 decision would be “Solomonic” and avoid chaos. The 2011 and August 2019 decisions were both on just one section of the Clean Air Act.
The 2037 deadline was from a case to clean up Manila Bay. It was amended which led to the five-year deadline instead.
The August 2019 decision stemmed from a complaint filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the tenure of Buhay Rep. Joselito Atienza as environment secretary.
According to the complaint, the two concessionaires failed to meet the five-year deadline to connect all households and establishments to their sewage systems.
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