Water advocates trooped to the main office of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) today in Balara, Quezon City, demanding the resignation of its officials for their failure to uphold public interest.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said that MWSS Board of Trustees (BOT) and Regulatory Office (RO) officials utterly disregarded the provisions on public utilities of the Public Service Act and the legal opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) when they declared Manila Water and Maynilad as mere agents and contractors, and not as public utilities themselves.

Yesterday, FDC and some lawmakers filed before the Supreme Court a petition for the nullification of two MWSS resolutions¡XMWSS BOT Resolution No. 2004-201 and RO Resolution No. 04-006-CA¡Xwhich stripped the private water providers of their nature as public utilities.

"We are utterly appalled by these acts of MWSS officials. These MWSS resolutions are unlawful and must be declared invalid,¡¨ exclaimed FDC vice president for Blue Drop Campaign Francis Isaac, stressing that the assailed MWSS resolutions ¡§betray public trust."

Isaac pointed out that said resolutions from MWSS would mean additional burden to the more than 12 million Metro Manila water consumers:
  • First, these water companies are exempted from the 12 percent profit margin limitation under Section 12 of the MWSS Charter. This means that Manila Water, which was found by the Commission on Audit to have registered a 40.92 percent rate of return on rate base (RORB) in 1999, walked away with P281 million excess income;
  • Second, these private water distributors are freely charging consumers with additional P1.55 (Manila Water) and P4.14 (Maynilad) per cubic meter of water. This translates to about P6.33 billion (Manila Water) and P56.018 billion (Maynilad) worth of corporate income taxes being passed on to unsuspecting public;
  • Third, the water concessionaires may invoke these resolutions in refusing to extend their services to anyone within their jurisdiction; and,
  • Last, these concessionaires, in effect, are now exempted from the provisions expressed in Article XII, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution, which limits foreign ownership of public utilities to at most 40 percent.
"Manila Water and Maynilad are sucking their consumers dry. They must return their over-collections due to excess in RORB and the passing on of their corporate income taxes to consumers" Isaac said.

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