Benitez foresees class action suit vs. Manila Water

Published March 18, 2019, 9:53 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Ellson Quismorio

Negros Occidental 3rd district Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said consumers should file a class action suit against water concessionaire Manila Water if it fails to duly compensate them for their woes amid the ongoing water crisis.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (  / MANILA BULLETIN) 
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez

“The way I see it, there is negligence on the part of Manila Water, so there should be proper compensation for the customers,” Benitez said during an impromptu press conference at the House of Representatives.

That morning, Benitez and his colleagues attended an oversight hearing by the Committee on Metro Manila Development regarding the lengthy water service interruptions that have affected the metropolis and nearby provinces.

Grilled during the hearing was Manila Water President Ferdinand Dela Cruz.

“I told them not to take this lightly,” Benitez said, referring Manila Water officials. “Kapag hindi sila gumalaw (If they don’t act), we will be obliged to encourage a class action suit.”

Benitez, chairman of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said a class action suit would allow the pestered customers to seek redress from the court.

Benitez said that during the hearing, he asked Manila Water “to think of the biggest compensation” that it can give to consumers.

“I would wait for Manila Water’s response to this request [for compensation before filing a class suit). I asked them, out of their good heart, to propose a compensation package and this [was] echoed by my colleagues.

“Unang-una inadmit na nila pagkakamali nila. Mauuwi tayo sa ganun kung hindi sila makipag-cooperate sa committee (First of all they admitted their lapse. We’ll end up filing a class suit if they don’t cooperate with the committee),” he warned.

An initial computation by Benitez and his colleagues showed that Manila Water might need to cough up P2 billion to P2.5 billion worth of compensation funds.

“That’s not even [of their profit] last year,” the Visayas solon noted.