Water rate increase ‘betrays’ consumers

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TOYING WITH WATER  Children play with water meters at Barangay Kamias in Quezon City on Monday, apparently oblivious that higher water rates were implemented effective on the same day by concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

TOYING WITH WATER
Children play with water meters at Barangay Kamias in Quezon City on Monday, apparently oblivious that higher water rates were implemented effective on the same day by concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

An advocacy group has accused two water concessionaires of “betraying” the public by implementing higher water rates effective January 5.

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The Water for All Reform Movement (WARM) on Monday called the implementation of the new rates by Maynilad and Manila Water a clear sign of the concessionaires’ insensitivity to the plight of consumers, who the group said were still reeling from higher train fares that were imposed by the government effective January 4.

“It is a double whammy [with the first blow delivered by]the fare increases of Metro Rail Transit 3 [MRT 3] and Light Rail Transit [1 and LRT 2]. A betrayal of Filipino consumers. We are being cheated again not only by these water utility concessionaires but also by the government, specially the Metropolitan Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System [MWSS],” WARM president Rodolfo Javellana Jr. said.

Javellana added that the two concessionaires should have lowered their water rates because the consumers are already paying them the Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA) with every change in foreign currency rates.

Maynilad and Manila Water had cited the Foreign Currency Differential Adjustment (FCDA) in raising their rates.

In 2013, they questioned the decision of MWSS to cut their tariffs under the rate rebasing review for 2013-2014.

MWSS rejected Maynilad’s petition for P8.58 per cubic meter rate increase and ordered the concessionaire to reduce its rate by P1.46 per cubic meter.

Manila Water proposed a P5.83 per cubic meter increase in their basic charge of P24.57 per cubic meter but MWSS instead ordered a P7.24 per cubic meter cut.

Both concessionaires challenged MWSS’ decision, with Maynilad locked in arbitration process since October 2013 and Manila Water since September 2013.

The arbitration panel is expected to resolve the issue this month.

There was no representation from water consumers in the arbitration process because it was covered by the confidentiality clause in the concession agreements.

WARM appealed to lawmakers to look deeper into the concession agreements that affect millions of consumers not only in Metro Manila but also nearby provinces.

“We can no longer expect our government to act in behalf of the consumers. We appeal to our lawmakers and the courts to intervene and stop these corporate abuses and exploitation of the Filipino consumers,” Javellana said.

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