MANILA – The Manila Water Company cannot say for sure yet if it could refund consumers of the minimum amount they will be paying for water service even if there is no water flowing through their faucets.
Manila Water president and chief executive officer Ferdinand Dela Cruz made the remark on Monday during the joint House panel hearing on the water shortage supply in some areas in Metro Manila.
In his interpellation, Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that even if there is no water supply, consumers would still pay a minimum amount for their water service, to which Dela Cruz affirmed.
“Are you going to refund the consumers sa isang linggo o dalawang linggong walang tumutulong tubig sa mga gripo namin? Kanina halos nagpupunas-punas lang ako dahil ang hina ng tubig. Will you refund the consumers?” Zarate asked Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz, however, said they have not talked about such matter yet.
“There is no discussion yet on that one because our focus is in the restoration of water,” Dela Cruz said.
Zarate insisted on his point, asking Dela Cruz if they are at least willing to refund consumers even if there is no discussion on that matter yet.
“Malinaw na talong-talo ang consumers dito. Walang tumutulong tubig pero magbabayad pa rin sila ng minimum amount. Hindi ba talagang tubong-tubig ‘yan?” Zarate said.
Dela Cruz replied: “We will follow the prescribed process of the MWSS Regulatory Office for what has happened.”
Earlier in the hearing, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System chief regulator Patrick Ty said that even if Manila Water violated the concession agreement of providing uninterrupted water service to its consumers, the MWSS does not have the authority to impose fines and penalties on the public utility company.
Dela Cruz, however, said they would still be paying penalties in addressing the water supply shortage.
“Based on the process, we will pay the penalties to the RO (regulatory office) of the MWSS. The penalty is in the form of expenses that we’ll incur to fix this. That is, in effect, whatever cost we use to cure the issue will not be charged to the consumer,” he said.
“It will still impact our rate of return in the end,” he added. (GMA News)