• Chiz wants water firms closely monitored

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    SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Friday said Congress  should find ways to strictly monitor water companies to protect consumers.

    Escudero said the 16th Congress should include the monitoring of water firms in its agenda when it opens on July 22.

    “We will investigate that once the Senate resumes. I intend to keep a watchful eye on all monopolies that, given their market dominance, have a natural tendency to abuse and take advantage of their consumers,” he said.

    Escudero was referring to the supposed practice of private water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company of passing their P15 billion corporate income taxes from 2008-2012 to consumers.

    Worse, the two water concessionaires also make consumers pay for their expenses for gifts, trips, entertainment and other company miscellaneous, according to the Water for the People Network.

    These extra charges are included as part of operational expenses.

    “In any part of the country, water districts are natural monopolies. There is no free enterprise and fair competition. It is but right that this industry must be placed under strict monitoring by an institution to balance the equilibrium between our consumers and these industry players,” Escudero said.

    He noted that concessionaires can impose their rates because there is no regulatory body over water utilities unlike in the power industry which has the Energy Regulatory Commission.

    Escudero said the Senate could scrutinize this gray area to put in place a mechanism that would mandate water utilities to serve the interest of the consumer vis-a-vis  its profit margins.

    “We can’t just leave monopolies on their own device and allow them to steadily earn while we consumers carry the burden,” the senator explained.

    Senator Ralph Recto had already filed a resolution directing the Senate committee on public service to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

    Jefferson Antiporda

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