THE Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is looking at penalizing Maynilad Water Services, Inc. for failing to fulfill its obligations amid the recurring water service interruptions.

“The MWSS sent a letter to Maynilad this month giving them an opportunity to explain the problems and what are their actions to resolve these problems,” Patrick Lester N. Ty, chief regulator at the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO), told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr. Ty was referring to water service interruptions experienced in some parts of Maynilad’s service areas.

The MWSS has said that portions of Cavite, Pasay and Muntinlupa are experiencing water interruptions, which is said to be due to the ongoing maintenance of the Putatan water treatment plant.

Maynilad responded to the letter on Tuesday, but Mr. Ty said the MWSS needs at least a month to study the company’s explanation.

“If their explanation is not acceptable then there will be a penalty, potentially, based on the penalty we imposed earlier this year. Based on the concession agreement, it could be doubled,” he said.

“Those who received a rebate last January, they will be the ones who will be entitled to another rebate if the Maynilad explanation will not be enough. Maximum is double the penalties imposed last January,” Mr. Ty said.

In January, the MWSS directed Maynilad to rebate P27.48 million to customers affected by the water services interruptions in areas served by the concessionaire’s Putatan water treatment plants.

In May, the agency and the water distributors signed the revised concession deal governing the supply of water in Metro Manila.

Maynilad and Manila Water Co., Inc. announced in separate disclosures on May 11 that the amended agreements were signed on May 10 to retroactively take effect on July 1, 2022.

According to Mr. Ty, under the revised agreement, water concessionaires could be penalized after three days of violation. The previous agreement authorized MWSS to impose penalties or fines after 15 days of violation and six months to resolve the situation.

“We will issue new rules and regulations regarding penalties to our two concessionaires because the new concession agreement is now effective. We are preparing the implementing rules and regulations which will be their guiding rules on how this would be implemented,” he said.

He said that the new agreement is stricter as it is the responsibility of both concessionaires to ensure uninterrupted water supply.

“That is why we privatized the system so it is their responsibility to provide services,” Mr. Ty said.

Meanwhile, Jennifer C. Rufo, head of Maynilad corporate communications, said in a Viber message on Wednesday that the company “will abide by the Implementing rules and regulations to be promulgated by the MWSS RO” in connection with the revised concession agreement.

Mr. Ty said that the new concession agreement provides that the MWSS RO can recommend to Congress the revision of the agreement or the concessionaires’ franchise.

“There are provisions that allow the RO to require the concessionaires to fix things, if not we can get a third party to do it for them or recommend that concession agreement be improvised as well as their projects,” he said.

Separately, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) announced on Wednesday that it had approved the 52 cubic meters per second (CMS) water allocation to MWSS.

On Tuesday, the MWSS requested an extension of its current 52 CMS allocation to meet the needed supply in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Normally, the agency draws 48 CMS from the Angat dam. The NWRB said the 52 CMS allocation will cover June 1 to 15, before reducing it to 50 CMS from June 16 to 30.

Maynilad serves Manila, except for portions of San Andres and Sta. Ana. It also operates in Quezon City, Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas, and Malabon. It also supplies the cities of Cavite, Bacoor, and Imus, and the towns of Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, all in Cavite province.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.  — Ashley Erika O. Jose