Maynilad warns extension of ‘no disconnection policy’ of MWSS detrimental

It will be detrimental for Maynilad Water Services Inc. if the government decides to extend the moratorium on the issuance of water service disconnection notice to consumers, a Maynilad official said.

As for Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty, he said a decision regarding this matter will be made within this week.

Jennifer Rufo, Maynilad’s head for stakeholders communications office, said the West Zone concessionaire will start issuing notices of disconnection by October 1, Thursday.

The service disconnection notices, she said, will be issued to domestic accounts that still have unpaid dues from March to May and have not yet entered into a Promissory Note (PN) arrangement to ask for other payment terms.

“After the Notice of Disconnection is issued, the customer has 15 days (or until Oct. 15, 2020) to either settle or enter into a PN arrangement, so as to avoid service disconnection by Oct. 16, 2020,” Rufo told Business Bulletin.

“As much as possible, we do not want to disconnect services, so we encourage customers to at least enter into a PN arrangement that will enable them to pay their ECQ bills under easier terms, assuming that the payment deadline extensions already granted are still hard for them to meet,” she added.

The MWSS Board of Directors earlier decided to order its concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water Company, Inc., to extend the no disconnection period for their respective customers until the end of September. This, according to MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat, should help consumers to recover from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rufo said, however, that if ever the MWSS decides to extend the moratorium further, it will already be “difficult” for the company to continue operating.

“We need funds to continue operating facilities, purchasing water treatment chemicals, and maintaining the network to ensure sustained water service for customers,” Rufo said.  

Ty, in a separate text exchange on Monday, said MWSS-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) is now looking into the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to see if there’s a provision there that can provide any sort of additional relief to water consumers.

Bayanihan 2 is the legislation that should help and guide the government in the implementation of COVID-19 measures for the rest of this year. 

“We are still reviewing the Bayanihan 2 to check if there's anything applicable. We are checking if there's any additional relief under the Bayanihan 2 that can help the consumers,” Ty told Business Bulletin.

He said the government hopes to finish this review before Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Manila Water's Corporate Communications Head Jeric Sevilla said the East Zone concessionaire will first wait for the decision of the government regulators before it will issue disconnection notice to its customers.

“We are still discussing this with the regulators,” Sevilla said. “It really depends on what would be the directive of the MWSS-RO just like in the past”.