This was the question asked by the Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) yesterday when the scheduled arbitration between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its two water concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad Water was held behind closed doors on Wednesday.
“It looks like a telenovela. Why does the deal have to be kept away from media, water consumers and the public? What are they cooking? How come they have never put to work the MWSS Regulatory Office resolution of September 12 that seeks cutbacks in water rates?” asked WARM President RJ Javellana.
Javellana was referring to an arbitration hearing held at the Discovery Suite Hotel between MWSS officials and the two concessionaires.
MWSS earlier turned down the petition for increased rates sought by the water concessionaires, ordering them instead to cut their charges in the next five years beginning September 12.
Based on the MWSS decision, Metro Manila west zone concessionaire Maynilad Water was ordered to lower its basic water tariff by P1.46 per cubic meter in the next five years, while east zone concessionaire Manila Water was ordered to reduce charges by P7.24 per cubic meter also spread over a five-year period.
In separate statements, both companies said they would file an arbitration case to dispute the MWSS order.
Javellana however said that starting last October, water rates should have gone down after the MWSS Regulatory Office turned down separate petitions concessionaires Maynilad Water and Manila Water Company Inc. to raise water rates in their respective concession areas because of the September 12 Resolution.
Both concessionaires maintained that the current water rates will continue to apply until a final decision is reached by an arbitration panel composed of a member appointed by Maynilad, a member appointed by MWSS, and a third member, the appeals chairman.