Makabayan bloc seeks immediate halt to looming water rate hike
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc have filed a resolution seeking a deferral of the looming rate hike of utility concessionaires Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., for the sake of low-income families.
House Joint Resolution No. 17 – filed by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel – calls for the “immediate suspension of the implementation of the water rate hike beginning in January 2023 amid high prices and basic services and amid the lingering economic downturn.”
Last November, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) approved the proposal of both water concessionaires to raise their rates in tranches from January 2023 until 2027.
Manila Water will charge P8.04 more per cubic meter and Maynilad P3.29 more this year.
MWSS chief regulator Patrick Lester Ty then said “these rate adjustments will enable Manila Water and Maynilad to provide the highest quality of water, sanitation and sewerage services that their customers deserve.”
But the Makabayan bloc lamented a water rate hike “amid an unprecedented economic crisis, high inflation rate, lack of adequate jobs and low wages.”
“This will only exacerbate the plight of poor families who are struggling to make ends meet,” they said.
The lawmakers also said that since the privatization of MWSS in 1997, water concessionaires have been excessively charging their customers.
“Amid the huge rate hikes since privatization, the quality of service by the two private concessioners [has] been marked by inefficiencies, service interruptions and other troubles which were endured by millions of customers,” they argued.
The Makabayan bloc further justified their resolution by citing the record-high inflation rate, which hit an “unbearable high” at 8.1 percent as of December 2022.
This, they noted, is expected to increase further in the coming months along with hikes in the prices of commodities and utilities.