No need for water rate hikes, lawmakers say

by Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2012 08:44 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2012 04:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines -  Several lawmakers said they found no legal basis for water concessionaires to justify a series of hikes in water rates imposed on consumers in Metro Manila.

However, the House Committee on Good Government is not expected to submit an official report on its findings as senior legislators insisted that there is no reason for the House panel to continue with the investigation.

On a motion by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the House panel decided to pass the investigation to the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization.

Rodriguez pointed out  that there is no reason to support the claim of "malfeasance and misfeasance" in the course of the grant by the state-run Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System for water increases submitted by Manila Water Company and the Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Rodriguez, together with committee chairman and Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas and Karlo Nograles (LP, Davao City), also aired misgivings over the conduct of the congressional inquiry.

They pointed out that complaints of syndicated estafa have already been filed against the two water concessionaires before the Office of Quezon City Prosecutor.

The Water for All Reform Movement (WARM) filed the charges only recently. 

During the hearing, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy tried to prove that the concession agreement between the MWSS and the two concessionaires does not give them the authority to impose additional charges for future water projects.

According to her, the MWC and Maynilad have collected over P6 billion from consumers supposedly to finance the implementation of the Laiban Dam and the Angat water improvement projects.

Herrera-Dy said government has already decided to abandon the 2 projects but the two concessionaires still continue to collect charges for the implementation.

MWSS Chairman Ramon Alikpala said there is a possibility for the downgrading of rates if government is convinced that the additional charges imposed by 2 water concessionaires have already covered investments they are trying to recover.