• Concessionaires win over consumers

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    The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office swept into the dustbin the syndicated estafa case filed by a consumers group against officials of the Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) and Manila Water Co. (MWC) for allegedly collecting some P6-billion from customers in the guise of financing water supply projects that have never been implemented.

    In a nine-page resolution, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Gibson Araula Jr. said the case filed by the Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) led by its president Rodolfo Javellana, Jr. was dismissed because of lack of probable cause.

    “The dismissal of the complaint was recommended by the panel of prosecutor for lack of probable cause,” Araula noted.

    In June last year, the group filed the criminal complaint against the two water concessionaires for allegedly “conspiring, confederating, mutually helping one another in hoodwinking its customers by demanding payment for multi-billion peso water and sewerage projects whose implementation were either delayed or abandoned.”

    In their complaint, the group said they decided to file the case against the respondents for ignoring demands for the refund of at least P6-billion that both water concessionaires collected from customers supposedly to finance the Laiban dam project and the Angat dam Reliability or Angat dam Irrigation Replacement Project.

    They claimed that the implementation of the two projects were cancelled and have been abandonedSince the two water concessionaires did refund the collected amount to the consuming public, the group said the MWSI and MWC must be penalized for committing syndicated estafa in violation of the Presidential Decree 1689 in relation to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

    “The collection of P6 billion, more or less, for the unimplemented and worse, abandoned projects constitutes and creates in respondents the fiduciary and legal obligation to return and refund the said amount to complainants and the rest of the consuming public at the earliest possible time and no justifiable reason exists for respondents to delay or withhold such return or refunds,” the complainants stressed.

    According to the complainants, despite a recommendation for refund made by the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)-Regulatory Office (RO), the two water concessionaires continued with their “unlawful collections.”

    The group said the MWSS-RO recommendation for refund was approved by the board of trustees of the MWSS, which passed a resolution on December 10, 2010.

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