Senators welcome Manila Water's waived minimum charge in April
MANILA, Philippines – Several senators on Tuesday welcomed the decision of Manila Water Co. Inc. to waive the minimum charge in the April water bill of its customers in the wake of the supply interruptions earlier this month.
The east zone concessionaire earlier announced that it would implement a voluntary and one-time bill waiver to compensate tens of thousands of customers affected by the water shortage.
The minimum charge covers only the first 10 cubic meters of water consumed.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee that initiated a probe into the water shortage, said that while she welcomes the decision, steps should still be undertaken to identify the roots of the problem and how to solve it.
“Mabuti naman may magandang kinahinatnan ang ating pagdinig at ang ating apela sa kanila na dapat ay mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mga kababayan,” Poe said in a statement.
“Pero hindi pa po natatapos doon sapagkat kailangan din nating matunton kung ano ba talaga ang ugat nitong problema at paano natin masosolusyonan at masiguro na hindi na ito mangyayaring muli,” she added.
Senator Joel Villanueva said that Manila Water’s initiative should not preclude the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to impose penalties for its failure to provide 24/7 water service to its customers.
He added that the water shortage “highlights the need for more technical personnel” in the MWSS to properly address the water supply situation.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Manila Water should also reimburse public hospitals.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), she noted that six public hospitals incurred losses of P4.116 million at the height of the water shortage.
She said that from March 8 to 18, the Rizal Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), National Center for Mental Health, East Avenue Medical Center and the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center also sustained additional operational costs amounting to P1.372 million.
“In the same spirit and under the same principle that guided it in waiving its water fees as a form of compensation to consumers, Manila Water should immediately reimburse the said public hospitals and compensate them for the public health risks their patients were exposed to because of the water crisis,” she said. / gsg