Manila Water boss holds self accountable, recognizes 'anger' over crisis

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2019 08:19 AM | Updated as of Mar 21 2019 04:53 PM

MANILA -- The head of Manila Water said Monday he was holding himself accountable for the water crisis that has affected tens of thousands and acknowledged the "anger" of affected customers.

Operations of the distributor in charge of the capital's east zone will return to normal by the end of summer. The supply deficit will be halved by April and will be reduced further to 15 percent by May, said Manila Water president and CEO Ferdinand dela Cruz.

"I am holding myself accountable for the sudden drop in our service levels to your constituents, whom we who we have consistently served over the past 21 years with 24/7 water availability and sufficient water pressure," Dela Cruz told a House committee hearing.

"Noon pong nagsimulang serbisyuhan ng Manila Water ang publiko, pinangako po namin na hindi na kayo magpipila-balde at maghihintay ng magrarasyon ng tubig ngunit noong nakaraang linggo, binigo ko po kayo," he said.

(When Manila Water started serving the public, we promised an end to falling in line for water rations. But last week, we failed you.)

Recounting stories from Manila Water clients in Mandaluyong City, who fall in line for water at dawn, Dela Cruz said: "Nauunawaan ko po ang galit ng inyong constituent sa amin."

(I understand why your constituents are angry at us.)

Dela Cruz described the onset of the shortage last March 6 as "a date I will not forget as president of Manila Water."

"Alam ko po ang hirap na dinadanas ng inyong constituents, may kaya man o mahirap lalo sa mga residente ng Barangay Highway Hills at Barangay Barangka sa Mandaluyong," he said, addressing congressmen, including Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

(I know the suffering of your constituents, rich or poor, especially those living in Highway Hills and Barangka in Mandaluyong.)

When La Mesa Dam’s water level went "below the lowest point it could flow into," it became impossible for Manila Water to maintain its water supply, he said.

"Without this…we cannot fully serve the peak demand at sufficient pressure," he said.

The Cardona Water Treatment Plant started partial operations last March 14, which allowed Manila Water to supply water to towns in Rizal such as Binangonan, Angono and Baras, he said.

Maynilad, in charge of the capital's west zone, committed to share 50 million liters per day of water, he said.