MWSS extends ‘no disconnection’ policy to end September

Published July 26, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Water concessionaires Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. cannot disconnect services to customers until the end of September, a top official from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said.

MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat said in a phone interview that the MWSS Board has decided to order the agency’s concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, to extend the no disconnection period for their respective customers until the end of the third quarter.

“That is already effective,” said Salamat noting the extension would help ease concerns of consumers during this difficult time.

MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said, however, that he is still yet to receive a formal copy of this particular MWSS Board decision, which was decided upon during a July 9 board meeting.

“This is good news for consumers, but I can only implement that if I have a copy of the board resolution,” Ty said in a phone interview over the weekend.

Technically right now, non-life customers of Manila Water and Maynilad will still have only until July 31 to settle their water bills, even those accumulated during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period, or else they will already be issued with disconnection notice.

As the head of the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO), which is an independent regulatory agency, Ty is responsible in mandating Manila Water and Maynilad to execute MWSS Board’s decision.

Salamat acknowledged this and said the copy of the latest board resolution will soon be forwarded to MWSS-RO.

Mandated to monitor MWSS’ concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water, MWSS-RO’s tasks include the review, monitoring and enforcement of rates and service standards that are supposed to be followed by concessionaires. 

Meantime, Ty clarified that there has not been any water rate adjustment, except for the quarterly Foreign Currency Differential Adjustment (FCDA), so far for this year contrary to the claims of Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) President Vic Dimagiba.

Dimagiba, in his letter sent to Ty, said water rates should have gone down at the beginning of this year as part of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment, which happens every January.

In his defense, Ty said the CPI adjustment, as well as the supposed rate adjustments under rate rebasing, were both deferred in January. Ty added that even if there was no deferment, the CPI adjustment alone would have resulted in an increase in water rates because of inflation.

 Dimagiba, a former trade and industry undersecretary for consume welfare, said water consumers have been overpaying since the CPI was supposed to be adjusted lower since January.

“Our plea is rollback and refund,” Dimagiba said in a separate phone interview.
          “We need deflation to be able to rollback,” Ty countered.