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Manila Water to implement 'one-time bill waiver'

Manila Water on Tuesday said it would implement a "one-time bill waiver scheme" following the service interruption that gripped several areas in Metro Manila and Rizal province earlier this month.

In a press briefing, Manila Water president and CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz said the scheme will be reflected in the April bill of its customers.

“To help ease in some way the inconvenience we have caused, with inputs from both MWSS Corporate Office and Regulatory Office, we are announcing a voluntary and one-time bill waiver scheme in March to be reflected in the April bill of our customers,” Dela Cruz said.

The waiver scheme, however, will only cover customers in areas severely affected by the water interruptions.

The concessionaire said customers in barangays which experienced absolutely no water service for at least seven continuous or broken days within the March 6 to 31 period will not be charged for their March bills.

Dela Cruz also said 10 cubic meters of Manila Water customers' consumption will not be billed.

A typical Manila Water household consumes an average of 30 cubic meters per month costing P600, he said.

The list of areas to be covered by the waiver will be finalized by the end of March, he added, as the list will first be approved by the company's board members.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Reynaldo Velasco said Manila Water's waiver scheme is a self-imposed penalty for the water crisis.

On Monday, several individuals led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes filed a complaint before the MWSS asking Manila Water to suspend basic charges for the customers affected by a water supply shortage.

Bayan welcomes announcement

Bayan, meanwhile, welcomed Manila Water's announcement but said the bill waiver should not be the only step the water concessionaire should take in helping its customers.

"The bill waiver, along with the non-collection of the basic charge, are among the reliefs prayed for in our petition with the MWSS," Reyes said in a statement.

"However, the reality is that the additional expenses incurred during the water crisis far exceeds the average monthly bill."

Reyes urged the MWSS to still pursue the penalties against Manila Water under their concession agreement.

The water service interruption affected some 1.2 million households in the east zone of Metro Manila, serviced by Ayala-led Manila Water.

The water supply problem had become the subject of separate hearings by the Senate and the House of Representatives. —with Sandra Aguinaldo/KBK/KG, GMA News