MWSS orders Manila Water to pay P1.13-B in penalties over water crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — The government's water regulator has ordered Manila Water Company Inc. to pay a total of P1.134 billion in fine over the water crisis that left 1.2 million residents of Metro Manila and Rizal without water for days.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Board on Wednesday said it imposed a penalty of P534.05 million for Manila Water's failure to comply with the concession agreement.

MWSS said the east zone concession failed to abide by Article 10, Section 10.4 of the concessionaire contract which states: "A failure by the Concessionaire to meet any Service Obligation which continues for more than 60 days (or 15 days in cases where the failure could adversely affect public health or welfare) after written notice thereof from the Regulatory Office to the Concessionaire shall constitute a basis for the Regulatory Office to assesss financial penalties against the Concessionaire."

On top of the P534 million fine, the government's water regulator also directed Manila Water to set aside funds worth P600 million for the development of a new water supply source.

Manila Water said it will abide by MWSS order.

"Manila Water, as agent and contractor of water services of MWSS, hold ourselves accountable for our inability to provide our consumers with the usual uninterrupted water service," it said in a statement.

On March 7, customers of Manila Water were surprised by an unannounced water interruption. For at least a week, its 1.2 million customers have been experiencing no water supply or low water pressure. The water concessionaire attributes the shortage to the decreasing water levels at the La Mesa reservoir in Quezon City due to the dry spell. The water concessionaire attributed the shortage to the decreasing water levels at the La Mesa reservoir in Quezon City due to the dry spell.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously called for a review of the concessionaire agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water. He also said the water supply crisis was possibly an artificial shortage to justify an increase in water rates during the rate rebasing in 2022. He also called for a review of the concessionaire agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water.

The MWSS Board of Trustees in March directed its regulatory office to study the suspension of increase in water rates.