Trillanes seeks to investigate water rate hikes

Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV files Proposed Senate Resolution 1089, calling for an investigation on the rate hikes implemented by the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila, Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services, effective 5 January of this year.
 
“The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, as well as Maynilad and Manila Water, has a lot of explaining to do on this recent water rate hikes. Instead of executing the 2013 MWSS-mandated water-rate reductions due to the alleged illegal charges they passed on to consumers, these water concessionaires welcomed us this year with new questionable rate increases,” said Trillanes.
 
The Manila Water increased their cost per cubic meter this year by P 0.36 which purportedly translates to an additional P 20.26 for a household consuming about 30 cubic meters of water a month, while Maynilad posted a P 0.38 increase per cubic meter, purportedly amounting to about P 9.15 for a consumption of 30 cubic meters of water.
 
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Gerry Esquivel said they approved the request of Manila Water and Maynilad to increase water rates as part of their foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) to reflect the change of the value of the peso against other currencies.
 
This, however, was questioned by the Water for All Reform Movement (WARM), stating that the FCDA is not enough reason for the water concessionaires to increase rates since the consumers are already paying for the Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA) every time there are movements in the foreign currency rates. According to WARM, only one of these should be shouldered by the public.
 
These initial round of water-rate increases is expected to be followed by another round of increase by Maynilad because the arbitration panel handling the appeal applied for by Maynilad in 2013, regarding the earlier round of basic water rate adjustment under the so called “rate rebasing adjustment,” has allowed said increase in a ruling rendered last 29 December 2014. This would result to 9.8-percent increase in the 2013 average water charge of P31.28 per cubic meter, or an average increase of P3.06 per cubic meter.
 
Trillanes added that these rounds of water-rate hikes appear to be of questionable legality and constitutionality, and that the same would in fact be very insensitive to the plight of ordinary consumers who already have to contend with the MRT and LRT fare rate increases, spiraling inflation and the rising cost of living in the country, among many others, without any commensurate increases in their salaries and wages
 
“Furthermore, the consumers were not informed beforehand, much less consulted, about the latest water rate hikes approved by the MWSS Regulatory Office, which is apparently in violation of the constitutional provisions on due process, social justice, full public disclosure, people’s participation and adequate consultation requirements,” Trillanes stated on its resolution.
 
“With this investigation, we hope to ascertain the legality of these increases and enact remedial legislation to protect the interest of the public,” noted Trillanes, who, in 2013, has questioned the annual corporate income taxes and other charges, including the travel and entertainment expenses, advertisements, donations, and training expenses, Manila Water and Maynilad have purportedly passed on to consumers.#
 


Tagalog version:


Trillanes, pinaiimbestigahan ang panibagong dagdag-singil sa tubig
 
Inihain ni Senador Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV ang Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1089 upang imbestigahan ang panibagong dagdag-singil sa tubig ng dalawang pinakamalaking water concessionaire sa Metro Manila, ang Manila Water Company at Maynilad Water Services.
 
“Dapat ipaliwanag ng Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, kasama ang Maynilad at Manila Water, itong dagdag pasanin na ito sa ating mga kababayan. Sa halip na ipatupad ng mga concessionaire na ito ang roll-back na ipinag-utos ng MWSS noong 2013 dahil sa sinasabing mga ilegal na gastos na pinasa nila sa taumbayan, sinalubong tayo ng mga ito ng panibagong dagdag-singil sa tubig,” ani Trillanes.
 
Magpapatupad ang Manila Water ng dagdag 36 sentimo kada cubic-meter o P20.26 sa mga komukonsumo ng  30 cubic-meters kada buwan, samantalang magpapatupad naman ng 38 sentimo ang Maynilad kada cubic-meter o P9.15 sa mga kumukonsumo ng 30 cubic-meter ng tubig.
 
Sinabi ni Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Gerry Esquivel na pinahintulutan nila ang pagtataas ng singil sa tubig ng Manila Water at Maynilad bilang bahagi ng foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA), o ang pagbabago ng halaga ng piso laban sa ibang pera ng ibang bansa.
 
Ngunit ito ay kinontra ng Water for All Reform Movement (WARM) at sinabing ‘di sapat na rason ang FCDA upang itaas ang singil sa tubig dahil nagbabayad na umano ang mga tao ng Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA) sa tuwing may pagbabago sa foreign currency rates. Ayon sa WARM, isa lamang sa mga ito ang dapat bayaran ng publiko.
 
Ang mga dagdag-singil na ito ay susundan muli ng dagdag-singil ng Maynilad dahil ang arbitration panel, kung saan naghain ng apela ang Maynilad noong 2013 ukol sa sinasabing “rate rebasing adjustment,” ay pinayagan nang ipatupad ang dagdag-singil sa tubig na dati nang gusto nito, ayon sa desisyon ng panel nitong ika-29 ng Disyembre 2014. Ito ay nangangahulugan na tataas pa ng 9.8 na porsyento ang average na singil sa tubig na P31.28 noong 2013, o katumbas ng P3.06 kada cubic meter.
 
Dagdag pa ni Trillanes, ang mga dagdag-singil na ito ay lumalabas na ilegal at labag sa Saligang Batas, at walang konsiderasyon sa paghihirap ng mga ordinaryong kababayan na kasalukuyan nang pinapasan ang dagdag-pasahe ng MRT at LRT, at iba pang mataas na presyo ng bilihan, samantalang ‘di naman tumataas ang pasahod sa mga ito.
 
“Maliban pa dito, hindi naabisuhan kaagad o nakonsulta man lang ang publiko ukol sa mga nasabing dagdag-singil na pinahintulutan ng MWSS Regulatory Office. Lumalabas na may paglabag sa tamang proseso, social justice, full public disclosure, people’s participation at adequate consultation requirements na tinatakda ng konstitusyon,” ani Trillanes sa kanyang resolusyon.
 
“Sa pamamagitan ng imbestigasyon na ito, inaasahan na malaman natin kung nararapat ba ang mga dagdag-singil na ito at nang sa gayon ay makapaghain ng nararapat ng panukalang batas upang maprotektahan ang interes ng ating mga kababayan,” dagdag pa ni Trillanes, na una nang kinwestyon noong 2013 ang sinasabing iligal na pagpapasa ng mga water concessionaire ng kanilang mga gastusin sa publiko, kasama dito ang annual corporate income taxes, travel and entertainment expenses, advertisements, donations, at training expenses.#