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Manila Water warns of 780% rate increase due to SC fines

East zone concessionaire Manila Water Co. Inc. has warned of an “exponential” increase in water rates if the Supreme Court’s imposition of massive fines will not be reversed.

The Ayala-led concessionaire warned that water rates could increase by as much as P26.70 per cubic meter or an increase of 780% “if the SC decision issued last August is not reversed.”

In August, Manila Water and Maynilad as well as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) were slapped by the SC with fines amounting to P921,464,184 million for not complying with the Clean Water Act.

The parties were also fined P322,102.00 per day from the day they received a copy of the decision until they have fully settled the fine.

“Manila Water had complied with its sewerage responsibilities under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and should not be fined P921 million,” the company said.

In its motion for reconsideration filed last week, the water concessionaire said the SC decision to impose various fines “have no basis.”

“For one, it said Sec. 8 of CWA simply required MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad to interconnect the ‘existing’ water lines of households, condominiums, subdivisions, among others, to the ‘available’ sewer lines of the concessionaires.”

By 2009, Manila Water said it had interconnected 61,000 out of the 63,000 subscribers to its sewer trunk.

“The rest could not be interconnected because the ‘available’ sewers would be compromised if overloaded. But since then, the company had installed additional sewers and spent billions of pesos more than it had collected for the purpose,” it said.

Sec. 8 of the CWA, Manila Water noted, did not envision the completion of the whole project, only the interconnection.

The law, it added, also penalizes only the polluters or their positive acts of commission.

“An act of omission such as failure to interconnect is not punishable,” the company said.

Manila Water emphasized that if the concessionaires were to compress into five years, as the SC ruling wants, what was planned as a 40-year project, the hundreds of billions of pesos required would lead to an increase in the water bill of subscribers.

This would also leave the concessionaires with less money for other necessities and triggering higher inflation.

“Worse, traffic is also to be expected since hundreds of kilometers of roads, including EDSA, which are part of the Manila Water’s East Zone, would have to be dug up all at the same time,” Manila Water said.

“The daily loss of P3.5 billion caused by existing traffic congestion could balloon significantly,” it said.

Manila Water holds the concession rights to the east zone of Metro Manila and Rizal province.

These include Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and parts of Quezon City and Manila. The towns of Angono, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililia, Rodriguez, Tanay, Taytay, Teresa, San Mateo and Antipolo in the province of Rizal are also part of the East Zone concession. —VDS, GMA News