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Lawmaker mulls negligence case against MWSS

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PHILSTAR

By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE BOARD of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) may face an administrative complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for gross negligence over the water crisis in Metro Manila.

“We are currently studying (a) possible case against MWSS for negligence,” Anakpawis Rep. Ariel B. Casilao said in a Makabayan bloc briefing, Thursday.

The lawmaker said MWSS failed to reprimand Manila Water Co., Inc for violating its Concession Agreement, which required that an uninterrupted 24-hour supply of water should be provided to consumers.

Article 10.4 of the Concession Agreement authorizes MWSS to penalize Manila Water, equivalent to 25% of the cost it incurred.

“While we understand there is a procedural requirement before the decision whether or not to enforce whatever is stated in the Concession Agreement, it seems the actuation at ‘yung mga ginagawa ngayon ng mga official ng MWSS ay pumapasa na sa negligence (and other actions by MWSS could [qualify] as negligence),” Mr. Casilao said.

He said the complaint will be filed “next week or the week after that.”

This followed Manila Water’s initiative to waive next month’s bill to customers most affected by the shortage and the minimum charge to the rest of its customers.

Mr. Casilao pointed out, “Despite the voluntary decision of Manila Water to waive certain minimum charges, it doesn’t stop the MWSS to implement its regulatory function.”

“Hindi po magiging moot and academic, kapag gumawa ng hakbang ang MWSS para panagutin ang Manila Water in violation of the Concession Agreement, despite the decision of Manila Water to waive certain fees.” (If MWSS were to take steps to make Manila Water accountable for violation of the Concession Agreement, this will not be moot and academic, despite the decision of Manila Water to waive certain fees).

Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty had said at a Senate hearing that the MWSS is exploring its options and plans to impose penalties by June or July.

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