By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe appealed on Thursday to the Manila Water to provide its customers a steady water supply, aside from paying the P1.13-billion fine over the water crisis in the east zone of Metro Manila last month.
The chair of the Senate public services committee made the call as she noted that residents in the affected cities supplied by the east zone concessionaire still suffer from water service interruptions, including her.
“Maganda naman na magbabayad sila ng multa, maganda rin na magbibigay sila ng refund, pero ang tanong din naman natin ay hanggang kailan tayo magkakaroon ng water interruption kasi hanggang ngayon meron pa rin ‘yan,” Poe said in an interview over radio DZMM.
(It is good that they are settling the fine, and that they will give a refund; but our question is until when will we have these water interruptions?)
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Wednesday slapped the Manila Water with a P1.13-billion fine for failing its 24/7 service obligation under their concession agreement.
Manila Water said it will abide by the MWSS’ decision and pay the amount, which includes the P534-million penalty and another P600 million that will be used, according to the MWSS, to develop a new water source.
But Poe said Manila Water, not the government, should be the one looking for new water sources.
In an earlier statement, Poe asked the MWSS to explain how the P600 million fund was decided upon as she raised possibility that making this an “additional penalty” for Manila Water could affect the consumers.
“Papaano ito naging penalty kung obligasyon naman talaga nila ng Manila Water na palawakin ang supply ng tubig? Isa pa, baka ito ay ipasa rin ng Manila Water sa consumers nito sa kalaunan (How did this become a penalty when it is Manila Water’s obligation to increase the supply of water? Also, Manila water may pass this on to the consumers later on),” she asked.
During the Senate inquiry held last month, Manila Water president and chief executive officer Ferdinand Dela Cruz said the company has since been collecting fees from its customers to build its Rizal Water Treatment Plant in Cardona, Rizal.
The facility started operations last March 14, and was reported to have recently begun contributing 50 million liters per day to the east zone concession.
With this, Dela Cruz had said that they expect water services to normalize by May.
“So kailangan po talaga siguro na magbigay ng solusyon, hindi lamang po ‘yung refund na P500 milyon na matatangap ng ating mga subscriber, marinig rin natin mismo sa Manila Water na sa darating na mga araw ay magiging regular na po ang suplay ng tubig,” Poe told the water concessionaire in the radio interview.
(So they really should provide solutions, not only the P500-million refund to the subscribers, but we should be hearing from Manila Water that in the coming days, we can finally have regular water supply.)