THE Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is seeking to exert its “moral pressure” to compensate customers of Manila Water Co. Inc. for the inconvenience caused by water interruptions.
In a chance interview, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester Ty said he is requesting for a meeting with Manila Water this Monday to figure out how to ease the burden on more than a million of households affected by the supply crunch this month.
The agency wants the listed firm to waive its billing to customers until water supply normalizes in its concession area that covers the eastern portion of Metro Manila and parts of Rizal province.
“I can only ask. I can exert moral pressure but I cannot legally compel them. Wala po tayong power na i-force them to do that,” Ty said, emphasizing the agency does not want to penalize the Ayala-held without subjecting them to due process since it could prompt Manila Water to file an arbitration case against the agency.
“Kung puwede waive or maski na deferment or maski na at least yung mga ating mga consumers na those consuming less than 10 cu.m. [cubic meters] sana at least sila ma-protect dahil sila po ang usually mga lower income,” he told reporters.
The MWSS Regulatory Office is in discussions with the water company even before requesting for a meeting in a bid to convince them to not charge the water bill for at least one month worth of the consumption.
It is also exploring the likelihood of providing rebates to Manila Water customers without waiting for the rate rebasing in 2022.
Rate rebasing is the process of adjusting water rates every five years based on performance. This is one way for government to ensure that utilities do not incur profits and losses.
“Ayon sa concession agreement, 25 percent ng gagastusin ng Manila Water para mabalik sa normal ang kanilang serbisyo, yun po ang puwede nating i-rebate sa ating mga consumers,” Ty explained, adding the computation will depend on the total average consumption of customers for this month.
Article 10, Section 10.4 of the concession agreement states: “A failure by the Concessionaire to meet any Service Obligation which continues for more than 60 days (or 15 days in cases where the failure could adversely affect public health or welfare) after written notice thereof from the Regulatory Office to the Concessionaire shall constitute a basis for the Regulatory Office to assess financial penalties against the Concessionaire. All penalties received by the Regulatory Office pursuant to this Section 10.4 shall be rebated to Customers affected by the Concessionaire’s failure to meet Service.