Workers protest MWSS board's 'excessive' allowances

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2012 05:41 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2012 04:24 PM

MWSS chairman denies allegations

MANILA, Philippines - Employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Monday held a protest rally to denounce what they call are "excessive" benefits given to members of its board.

Holding placards and streamers, around 30 MWSS employees protested during their lunch break. They claimed that each board member is paid P9,000 per regular committee meeting and P 15,000 for board meeting.

Nap Quiñones, MWSS Labor Association president, claimed MWSS officials and consultants are violating the new government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) law.

The group said MWSS trustees would schedule 4 committee meetings in a day, which would total earnings of P36,000 a day.

The group also accused the new MWSS management of hiring 36 consultants at P30,000 each.

They noted while the board members slashed their meal allowance of P150 a day to P3 a day, they feasted on excessive allowances.

The protesters were joined outside the MWSS by consumer group Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) who also denounced the hefty allowances and demanded the ouster of MWSS officials.

WARM also insisted on the refund of around P2 billion in collections to fund the cancelled Laiban dam and Bulacan irrigation projects initiated by the MWSS during the previous administration.

'Baseless accusations'

MWSS chairman Ramon Alikpala said all the accusations of the group were not true and have no basis. While Alikpala did not dispute the P9,000 per diem for each committee meeting, he insisted that the board members do not receive compensation or salary package.

He said this amount is within bounds of the law. Alikpala said it is not true that members of the board had meetings held 4 times a day.

There was an instance in April that several committee meetings were held but Alikpala said these were attended by different members of the board.

Compared to the previous chairman of the board who received P5 million a year, Alikpala said he only gets an income of P500,000, just a fraction of what his predecessor got.

Alikpala admitted the reduction of the meal allowance but stressed the additional compensation has no basis in law. He also defended the hiring of consultants which he claimed are needed in specialized area concerns of the MWSS but the number did not reach 36 at all.

When asked if he will resign, Alikpala said "if I do leave MWSS, it won't be because of this."

Meanwhile, Alikpala said the collected amount for the shelved Laiban and Bulacan irrigation project will not be refunded since the government will push through with these projects anyway. Any over- or undercollection can be remedied in the current rate rebasing done by the MWSS regulatory office for both Maynilad and Manila Water, he added.