By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said Tuesday Manila Water should compensate all its 1.2 million consumers in Metro Manila affected by the water supply crisis.
Hontiveros, vice chairperson of the Senate health committee, said that all those exposed to health risks as a result of Manila Water’s failure to meet its service obligation should be fairly reimbursed.
Manila Water’s saying sorry is not enough, she stressed.
The lady lawmaker cited as an example the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) which was forced to cut the number of its dialysis patients during the height of the water shortage.
Hontiveros also said that Manila Water, one of the two water concessionaires in the Metro Manila area and its environs, must compensate all affected households and businesses for lost time, gross inconvenience and loss of profit.
“While Manila Water’s public apology and act to hold itself responsible for the water shortage are recognized, a fair and just compensation to the consumers is in order.
It is one of the best ways to demonstrate its firm commitment to public accountability and restore consumer trust and confidence,” Hontiveros said.
‘’With over a million households deprived of access to clean water and exposed to numerous health risks, any apology without compensation is hollow and meaningless,” Hontiveros stressed.
“MWSS has power to penalize water concessionaires”
Hontiveros said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) has the power to penalize water concessionaires.
Hontiveros issued the statement to counter MWSS’s position that it has no power to hold water concessionaires accountable because the concession agreements do not authorize it to impose fines for unmet service obligations.
“Manila Water’s concession agreement clearly stipulates that the regulatory office can impose financial penalties on the concessionaire if its failure to meet its service obligation adversely affects public health or welfare. In fact, all penalties received by the regulatory body will be rebated to affected consumers,” she explained.
Hontiveros pointed out that Article 10, Section 10.4 of the concession agreement states: “A failure by the Concessionaire to meet any Service Obligation which continues for more than 60 days (or 15 days in cases where the failure could adversely affect public health or welfare) after written notice thereof from the Regulatory Office to the Concessionaire shall constitute a basis for the Regulatory Office to assess financial penalties against the Concessionaire. All penalties received by the Regulatory Office pursuant to this Section 10.4 shall be rebated to Customers affected by the Concessionaire’s failure to meet Service. ‘’