CA affirms fine on MWSS, water firms

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2012 04:07 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2012 03:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) decision to impose a P29.4 million fine on Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its two water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water for violation of the Clean Water Act (RA No. 9275).

In a 12-page decision of the First Division penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato, the appellate court junked the petition for review filed by the Manila Water Company, Inc., and affirmed the orders of the DENR Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) dated Oct. 7, 2009 and Dec. 2, 2009 imposing a fine on the firms between May 7 to Sept. 30 of the same year.

"The DENR-PAB correctly ruled that the petitioner had violated Section 8 of R.A. No. 9275 and had correctly imposed the fines in accordance with Sec. 28 of the law," the appellate court said.

The above-stated section states:

"Within five years following the effectivity of this Act, the agency vested to provide water supply and sewerage facilities or concessionaires or both in Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities as defined under Republic Act 7160, in coordination with local governments, shall be required to connect the existing sewerage line found in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers, hotels, sports and recreational facilities, hospitals, market places, public buildings, industrials complex and other similar establishments including households to available sewerage system."

Charges were filed against MWSS by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) - Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) and Central Luzon after it failed to install and maintain wastewater-treatment facilities (WTFs) within five years following the implementation of the Clean Water Act in May 2004. The EMB alleged this affected the quality of water in the Meycauayan and Marilao rivers which flow into Manila Bay.

The Supreme Court (SC) had issued a writ of mandamus on the DENR and other government agencies directing them to protect, rehabilitate and restore the bay's water.

The law provides a fine that of not less than P10,000 and not more than P200,000 for every day of violation of the law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Concurring with the decision were CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes, Jr. and Rodil Zalameda.