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Water firm ignores cancellation of permit

By: - Correspondent / @msarguellesINQ
/ 09:13 PM August 29, 2011

A multimillion-peso utility firm taken to task for purportedly supplying dirty water for at least 22,5000 city households will continue doing so despite the revocation of its business permit by the city government.

Cancellation of its business permit did not mean it could just stop operating, said Rollie Mangulabnan, chief operating officer of Philippine Hydro Inc. (Phil-Hydro). He said the company had “a standing contractual obligation” with the Legazpi City Water District (LCWD), which distributes the water to consumers.

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Mangulabnan cited Phil-Hydro’s “moral obligation to provide the public with their basic needs” as he belied a report that its water was contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

City Administrator Noel Rosal said mounting complaints from consumers about Phil-Hydro’s failure to provide clean potable water prompted the city government to cancel its business permit on August 22.

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The Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprises (COPE) Foundation Inc., Entrepinay Legazpi chapter, the Legazpi City Planning and Development Council and other groups have filed resolutions saying the water in the city “is murky and foul-smelling,” Rosal said.

Mangulaban said Phil-Hydro would ask the city government for reconsideration, hoping that it would be given at least six months to comply with the requirements imposed by the Department of Health (DOH).

Nestor Santiago, health regional director, had earlier said the firm failed to secure permits to operate as a bulk water service provider.

Mangulabnan denied that the water his company supplies to the LCWD is contaminated, citing findings of the city council’s committee on public utilities which tested water samples from its pipelines.

He cast doubts on the gathering of the water samples, saying the investigating team could have taken these outside the company’s processing facility or the production area, which is the Yawa River.

“Water gathered outside the processing facility would indeed be positive for contamination, such as iron and manganese and foul smell,” he said.

LCWD officials have yet to comment on the action taken by the city government. It said it would still hold consultations with stakeholders before it could decide on the fate of Phil-Hydro.

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Phil-Hydro entered into a contract to supply the LCWD with bulk water in March, 2007. It said its new technology, which taps water from rivers instead of springs, could convert surface water into “bottled water quality.”

The company invested P500 million to operate the facility that provides 600,000 cubic meters of water monthly to the water district. In turn, the LCWD pays Phil-Hydro P8.1 million a month for the water it currently distributes to city households.

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