THE METROPOLITAN WATERWORKS and Sewerage System (MWSS) wants the P600-million portion of the penalty it imposed on Manila Water Co., Inc. to be applied on the next water source project of the water concessionaire, possibly the 80-million-liters-per-day (MLD) Calawis-Wawa dam in Rizal province.

The regulator also wants the P534.05-million fine on the Ayala-led company to be applied as a deduction from the monthly bill of water users in June or as soon as the listed concessionaire for Metro Manila’s east zone will have completed its voluntary compensation for consumers.

Ngayon nagde-deduct pa sila ng self-imposed [penalty] nila, so hopefully by June puwede na ‘yun, ‘yung P534.05 million,” MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said in an interview on Thursday.

If a consumer’s monthly bill is below the corresponding amount to be rebated by Manila Water, the amount to be returned should be carried over to succeeding months, he said.

These are some of the details disclosed by Mr. Velasco after announcing the other day a total of P1.134-billion penalty on the water company. He said the MWSS Regulatory Office had computed the amount to be deducted from the monthly water bill of Manila Water consumers. “Actually dalawang option ‘yun. ‘Yung isa P517 [million] ‘yung isa P534 [million]. We opted for the higher,” he said.

Mr. Velasco said the penalty is part of the report submitted by MWSS to the Office of the President, after Malacañang directed water stakeholders to explain the reason for the water shortage customers of Manila Water had to contend with starting on March 6.

He said his office submitted the report on April 6, but held off disclosing details in order not to pre-empt any announcement from Malacañang.

“ ‘Yung P600 million imposition ‘yan on future projects. Halimbawa, a very simple [example], P6.6 billion ‘yung cost ng project, sa capex (capital expenditure) nila ang puwede lang nilang i-charge sa tao is P6 billion. ‘Yung P600 million hindi nila puwedeng i-charge,” he said, adding the application of the amount is “prospective.”

Mr. Velasco said as far as he is concerned, an important project for MWSS is the Calawis-Wawa dam.

“I need the 80 MLD of Calawis-Wawa by 2020, so dapat maayos na kaagad ‘yun,” he said.

The project is a component of a bigger project being undertaken by businessman Enrique K. Razon, Jr. Mr. Velasco said he has not acted on the proposal of Mr. Razon because the businessman has yet to file a request to lift the restraining order on the water rights on which the Calawis-Wawa project depends. The MWSS administrator recalled that, during a recent presentation by Mr. Razon’s group, the businessman said he would withdraw the restraining order.

“But the board wants a specific [action], like even at least ‘yung motion to withdraw,” Mr. Velasco said.

“You have to show us proof that you are withdrawing it. And one proof is you have to file a motion to withdraw the case.”

The bigger Wawa project is the 500-MLD water supply facility at the Wawa catchment area in Rizal province that will traverse the municipality of Rodriguez and the city of Antipolo. Prime Metroline Infrastructure Holdings, Inc. (Prime Infra), a company Mr. Razon controls, is handling the project. — Victor V. Saulon