BESIDES having to pay for the income taxes, huge salaries and even gifts of the two giant water concessionaires, customers of Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Company also pay for sewerage treatment and sanitation facilities that are non-existent, a group denouncing alleged excesses by the water firms said on Thursday.
“To have clean, quality, affordable and uninterrupted of drinking water or water safe enough to be consumed by humans is a basic right of every Filipino household. But collecting fees in their monthly water bills for non-existent sewerage treatment and sanitation facilities is depriving the people of their basic human right to public health and safety,” said Rodolfo Javellana, president of the group Water for All Refund Movement (WARM).
According to him, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is mandated to “insure uninterrupted and adequate” supply and distribution of potable water for domestic and other purposes.”
Javellana said it is also a clear policy that the “proper operation and maintenance of sewerage systems are essential public services because they are vital to public health and safety.”
“It is declared a policy of the state that the establishment, operation and maintenance of waterworks system must be supervised and controlled by the state. In the Philippines, unfortunately, 16 years after privatization of the water supply service and sewerage and sanitation mandated by law to the MWSS, majority of water consumers in Metro Manila and adjoining provinces of Rizal and Cavite still use septic tanks connected to their toilets to dispose of their water waste,” Javellana said.
He said putting up these facilities is the responsibility of Maynilad and Manila Water which were tapped by the MWSS to handle the operation and maintenance of water for domestic purposes.
“The MWSS and its concessionaires both failed to comply with their Concession Agreements [CA] to install and properly maintain sewerage treatment and sanitation facilities. This, inspite of the fact that the consumers are charged 10 percent environmental fees in their monthly water bills,” Javellana stressed.
“What they did instead is collect waste water ‘malabanan higop’ system in the septic tanks of households. Majority of their customers are clueless that Maynilad and Manila Water are supposed to install and properly maintain sewerage treatment and sanitation facilities to ensure public health and safety as mandated by law which created the MWSS,” he said.
Javellana explained that under the CA, the concessionaires are required to dispose waste water in all households of their customers “free of charge.”
He added that sewerage and sanitation services are long overdue but the MWSS, Maynilad and Manila Water neglected this important aspect of their mandated service.
“The people are helpless because the MWSS Board of trustees and Regulatory Office have been negligent in the performance of their duty to safeguard public health and safety and protect the environment. Likewise with the concessionaires,” the WARM head stressed.