Manila Water president says he heard Duterte’s orders ‘loud and clear’

Published March 20, 2019, 4:24 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Manila Water president and Chief Executive Officer Ferdinand Dela Cruz said Wednesday they were “taking seriously” President Duterte’s “clear and loud” marching orders to fix the water shortage, and ensure that it will not happen again.

Dela Cruz made the assurance as President Duterte threatened to terminate the contracts with two water concessionaires— Manila Water and Maynilad over the weeklong water shortage in Metro Manila.

Manila Water Company, Inc. president and CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz attends the House committee hearing on the Metro Manila water crisis at House of Representatives in Quezon City on March 18, 2019. (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)
Manila Water Company, Inc. president and CEO Ferdinand Dela Cruz attends the House committee hearing on the Metro Manila water crisis at House of Representatives in Quezon City on March 18, 2019. (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I think the instruction of the President is very clear, we have to fix this, we have to recover from this, and to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. We’re taking that seriously,” he told reporters in an ambush interview after the House Committee on Public Accounts conducted a hearing on the water crisis.

He noted that in terms of service recovery, they “already have a 90- to 95-percent service restoration, which we now define as at least eight to 12 hours of water at the ground floor in many areas.”

However, he said they are still 11 barangays with no water, but where tankering and network solutions are being done.

“We’re tripling our efforts to make sure na yung mga barangay na to kagaya ng Addition Hills will not only get tankering but also static tanks and even network solutions para yung mga hard to reach  or malalayong barangay… ay mabawasan na at mabigyan ng maspermanenteng solusyon,” Dela Cruz said.

He assured that they “continue to work around the clock” to fully address the water shortage situation.

“The instructions of the President are loud and clear and manila water is taking them seriously,” he pointed out.

But, when asked about the President’s threat to terminate the contracts with the two water concessionaires, Dela Cruz declined to comment and told the reporters that he has to go.

During the House Committee on Public Accounts hearing yesterday, he assured that by the end of this month, they target to reach 99 percent of their coverage area using the ground floor level standard so that they could spread the limited supply.

“Your honor, through you, we seek your constituents’ understanding as we continue the discipline of properly refiling our 28 network reservoirs and reliably operating our 20 pump stations. Service interruptions are still necessary to achieve these and our water availability goals,” Dela Cruz said.

He said he already gave instructions for his team to explore ways to provide some relief in the water bills of the affected residents. “We will discuss this with our regulators and we will update this Committee on the progress of this initiative,” he said.

During the hearing, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester Ty confirmed that they were scolded by President Duterte on Tuesday night over the weeklong water shortage.
“We did not make any presentation.The  President scolded us. The President made marching orders,” he said.

President Duterte on Tuesday night met with officials of MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad in Malacañang Tuesday night. During the meeting, Duterte threatened to fire the MWSS officials and terminate the contracts with Manila Water and Maynilad, as they ordered them to report on water shortage before April 7.

 
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