By Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz, Bernadette D. Nicolas and Jonathan L. Mayuga, March 21 2019; Business Mirror
Image Credit to Business Mirror
For the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to fully exercise its job, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday said the budget of the regulatory body should come from the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, the panel chairman, suggested this after Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. admitted during the committee hearing that they are paying a concession fee of P400 million each to MWSS.
According to Suarez, the operational expenses of MWSS come from the two water firms.
“We had been suggesting that the MWSS budget should come from the annual budget [and not from] the Maynilad and Manila Water,” he said.
“We are not saying that there is a bias in this arraignment but [we should] remove the [doubt]. Because the MWSS is soft on their stance because they draw their salaries from the firms they regulate,” Suarez added.
Randolph Estrellado, chief operating officer of Maynilad, told the lower chamber that the two water firms are paying P400 million in each concession fees annually.
But due to inflation, Manila Water President Ferdinand de la Cruz said the concession fee of Manila Water and Maynilad has gone up to P522 million.
Deputy Administrator Moro Lorenzo said parts of the salaries of MWSS workers come from these concession fees.
President Duterte threatened to fire officials of MWSS and terminate the government’s contracts with private water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.
Malacañang said the 40-minute meeting ended with the President ordering officials to submit a report on the water shortage before April 7, after which the President will decide “whether heads will roll” or whether the contracts will be terminated. “The President told them they could have simply anticipated such shortage and could have done something about it.
They had to wait for him to threaten them with personally rushing to Manila from Davao to grapple with the crisis before they moved to end it,” Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.
The Palace spokesman also said the President expressed his “evident displeasure by saying that he hoped that at the end of the day the water crisis was not just a matter of common sense.”
Up and running
Manila Water said consumers in the east zone of Metro Manila will have more water in the coming days as its Cardona Water Treatment Plant (WTP) has begun distributing up to 24 million liters of water per day (MLD).
The company said in a statement that the water extracted from the Laguna de Bay and treated in the Cardona WTP was initially distributed in barangays in Binangonan, Angono, Baras and Jalajala, Rizal.
The Cardona WTP started its operations on March 14, following the completion of Phase 1 of the project.