The Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) on Monday claimed that the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila collected a whopping P43 billion from their customers for undelivered services.
The group said Maynilad and Manila Water not only passed on to their consumers their corporate taxes, operational expenses and system loss or the cost of pilfered water, they also charged them environmental and sanitation fees.
The Concession Agreement of the two firms also allows them to recover the cost of rate fluctuations through foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) and currency exchange rate adjustment (CERA) from water consumers.
“The environmental charges that started at 10 percent of the total water bills is now 20 percent. The environmental and sanitation fees that have been collected is about 15 percent of the total consumers’ water bills amounting to more or less P18 billion. But there is no environmental and sanitation services except their obsolete and below international standard na Malabanan style poso negro,” Rodolfo Javellana, WARM president, told The Manila Times.
Javellana said an investigation of the questionable collections should include the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), because the agency allowed the water companies to collect these charges.
“The average consumer bills collection by the two firms for the last six years or so is already P180 billion. The average environmental and sanitation fees is 15 percent but it was adjusted to 20 percent in 2010 so our water bill has reached P27 billion,” he said.
Javellana noted that for a very long time, Maynilad and Manila Water were unable to provide sanitation services because they lacked the infrastructure.
On top of these collections, the two companies also collected P7 billion for earthquake contingency, P732 million to cover the costs of projects in Wawa dam, P900 million for the Pinugay Sewerage project in Pinugay, Antipolo, and advanced collections for the Laiban dam and several irrigation projects.
The Agta tribe in Sierra Madre had asked Congress to stop the construction of the Laiban dam. Ramcy Astoveza likened the dams to be built in their ancestral domain to a Damocles sword hanging over their heads, according to reports.
The MWSS early this year allowed Manila Water and Maynilad to collect advance tariffs for the dam and 15 irrigation projects even if work on the projects had not started.
Javellana said it is possible the water companies may have passed on the high fees to pay their consultants.
“ Maynilad, DMCI-MPIC Water Company, Philhydro, Metropac even took out an ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer greeting MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan his birthday on Sunday. I would just want to ask, will they also charge the money used for the ad on water consumers?” he said.
The two companies said their Concession Agreements (CA) allow them to pass on the charges to their customers.
However, groups like WARM and Water for the People Network (WPN) consider the CA onerous.