Water utilities have a lot of explaining to do | Inquirer Opinion

Water utilities have a lot of explaining to do

/ 01:26 AM July 19, 2012

Columnist Neal Cruz recently wrote a piece critical of water service providers. (Inquirer , 7/16/12) This elicited swift reactions from spokespersons of the concessionaires. Replete with denials and clarifications, the statements claimed Cruz had been misinformed and recited a litany of supposed investments and service initiatives undertaken by Maynilad and Manila Water.

From where most consumers stand, however, these exchanges only confirm that the 1997 privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has gone terribly wrong. For one, water service rates have exploded tenfold since Metro Manila was divided into two service zones, putting in question whether this really helps local residents. Second, some consumers have reached such a point of displeasure with the performance of the concessionaires that they have filed a case for syndicated estafa, demanding a P6-billion refund in local courts. It was likely the filing of this case that merited a comment from Cruz.

But the negative judgments being thrown against the MWSS and its concessionaires come not only from Cruz and consumers. No less than President Aquino himself revealed in his 2010 State of the Nation Address that the MWSS officials were the most profligate government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) officials in paying themselves various compensations such that each trustee was annually pocketing at least P2.5 million a year.  This triggered congressional hearings that were integrated into a report by party-list Bagong Henerasyon and filed with the Congress plenary before the 2012 Sona.  The report confirmed P-Noy’s allegations and unearthed even more MWSS anomalies, like the unconstitutional sale of a portion of La Mesa reservation, the non-payment of P8.5 billion in Maynilad concession fees, illegal consumer billings for unfinished projects, substandard concession performance deliveries from 1997 to 2007, and a suspicious extension of the concession terms up to 2037 without the benefit of any public hearing.

The congressional report was referred to the Department of Justice and the Commission on Audit—but it isn’t clear that any action has been taken on it. Worse, mainstream media seems to have clamped a hold order on any bad reports being made on the substandard water and sewerage services and the lack of real public hearings on the setting of rates.


Cover-ups of crimes and suppression of information may have been the rule from 1997 up to 2010.  But these clearly cannot continue on the “Daang Matuwid”!


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TAGS: letters, syndicated estafa, water rates, water utilities

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