Water consumers and anti-water privatization advocates led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition warned Pres. Aquino and Sec. Cesar Purisima of the Department of Finance (DoF) not to process the P82.44 billion compensation claim that water companies are demanding from the government on the basis of sovereign guarantees issued in connection with the privatization.

“The demand for almost P83 billion to cover the water companies projected losses is outrageous and unjust and should be rejected. Why should we pay money out of the national coffers to ensure the profits of wealthy corporations when we don’t even have enough for basic social services?” Samuel Gamboa, FDC Secretary General asked.

Following the resolution of their separate arbitration cases stemming from a 2013 rate-setting dispute, Maynilad had demanded P3.44 billion while Manila Water asked for P79 billion in compensation to recover losses arising from the arbitration controversy.

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Members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and the Palag Na! People’s campaign staged protest in front of the Maynilad corporate office along Katipunan Avenue today to denounce the water company’s continued insistence on passing on its corporate income taxes its customers.

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“Maynilad’s stubborn refusal to stop passing on its corporate income tax is a clear example of corporate greed. It has already been established that while it was charging Metro Manila water consumers for its income taxes, it was also benefiting from a tax holiday allowing it to bloat its profits further,” Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General said.

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Consumers and civil society groups led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) called on the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System t(MWSS) to stand up to the bully tactics being employed by Maynilad and Manila Water in the on-going row regarding water rates.

“The recent announcement by Manila Water that it filed a notice of claim with the Department of Finance for the absurd amount of P79 billion is clearly aimed at intimidating the government and MWSS. This is little more than a blatant ploy to stop MWSS from disallowing the water companies’ abusive practice of passing on their income taxes to consumers,” Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General said.

Manila Water had explained that the P79 billion claim represents its estimated foregone revenue from 2015 to 2037 after an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration panel ordered it to stop charging corporate income taxes to consumers.

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The Freedom from Debt Coalition questioned Maynilad’s claim of losses incurred from the delayed implementation of the arbitration decision issued in December 2014 and challenged the water company to substantiate its claims.

“Maynilad is desperately trying to paint itself as a victim by saying it is losing money from the delay in the implementation of the water tariff increase resulting from the arbitration award it got last year. We have news for them. They are not fooling anybody. They are not losing a single penny and the MWSS-Regulatory Office’s decision is entirely justified as we cannot have an absurd situation where we have different rules for two concessionaires performing the same service,” Sammy Gamboa, FDC Secretary-General said.

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The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and water consumer group Pagkakaisa ng mga Tagapagtangkilik ng Tubig sa Kamaynilaan (PATTAK) today blasted the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) regulators for their failure to take advantage of the 30-day period of clarification to block the immediate implementation of Maynilad’s planned water rate hike.

“After announcing that it would make use of the clarificatory period provided for under the arbitration process, the MWSS has apparently decided to drop all pretense that it is looking out for the welfare of water consumers. By simply allowing the deadline to lapse, the MWSS has paved the way for the implementation of the 9.8% increase granted to Maynilad by the International Chamber of Commerce-led arbitration panel,” Sammy Gamboa FDC Secretary-General said.

FDC said the MWSS decision to do nothing was tantamount to neglect of duty and a great disservice to already suffering consumers.

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