Cruz misled re Manila Water
This is in response to Neal Cruz’s column titled “Water firms illegally collecting fees” (Inquirer, 7/9/12).
We are concerned that Cruz may have been deliberately misled by certain quarters by feeding him with erroneous information. In the abovementioned column, he made several allegations that are not true. Among these are: that fees were illegally collected from consumers; that the distribution pipes are free and all that the concessionaires had to do was collect the monthly bills; and that the water distributors collect from the consuming public “sewerage fees” although no sewerage services are provided.
1. Tariff adjustments and collections are approved by the government after a very stringent process of evaluation and review, as mandated in the Concession Agreement between the government and Manila Water. Thus, they are legal.
2. Manila Water spent a significant portion of its P50-billion capital investment program to replace the old and leaking MWSS pipes. As of the end of 2011, a total of 4,156 kilometers of new lines have been laid—a key factor in bringing down the high level of system loss from 63 percent in 1997 to 11 percent at present, which is unprecedented in the history of the Philippine water industry. As a result, the number of people with access to clean water has doubled from 3.1 million to over 6.2 million. Replacing the old pipes with new ones did not come free.
3. Manila Water has spent P6.6 billion for wastewater projects and is now the largest wastewater operator in the Philippines, operating 37 sewage treatment plants and two septage treatment plants, benefiting more than 1.14 million households.
We have always admired Cruz’s vigilance when it comes to consumer issues. It is rather unfortunate that some quarters may have fed him with misleading information that may have been intended to put in question our Concession Agreement with the government.
Cruz can rest assured that Manila Water will remain firm in its commitment to preserve the integrity of our service, focusing on our mission to provide the best possible water and wastewater services to all residents in the East Zone concession area.
—N. JERIC T. SEVILLA JR.
head, communication affairs
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