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Manila Water CEO resigns for ‘personal reasons’ after March supply crisis

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MANILA Water Co., Inc. announced on Friday the resignation of Ferdinand M. dela Cruz, who cited “personal” reasons, marking the departure of the president and chief executive officer who was in office at the height of the water crisis that hit Metro Manila’s east zone concessionaire early this year.

He will also leave his other posts in the company, where he also served as director, chief sustainability officer and member of its executive committee. His resignation will take effect on Aug. 31, 2019.

“Our Board of Directors, at its meeting held this afternoon, accepted the resignation of Mr. dela Cruz and elected Mr. Jose Rene Gregory D. Almendras as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Sustainability Officer effective 01 September 2019, as endorsed by our Nomination Committee,” Manila Water told the stock exchange.

Separately, Manila Water’s parent firm Ayala Corp. announced Mr. dela Cruz’s resignation as managing director of the listed diversified conglomerate and that he had availed of early retirement effective Aug. 31, 2019 because of “personal matters.”

Manila Water said its board approved the election of Fernando Zobel de Ayala as chairman of the executive committee in place of Mr. Almendras and as member of the executive committee to replace Mr. dela Cruz effective Sept. 1. The board also elected Sherisa P. Nuesa as member of executive committee effective immediately.

Manila Water said that before Mr. Almendras joined the government in June 2010, he served as the company’s president and chief operating officer from March 30, 2009. It said it was during his time that the company achieved a 100% customer satisfaction rating.




It also said that Mr. Almendras was instrumental in the expansion and growth of the company beyond the east zone.

During his term, Manila Water said it was named one of the “Best Managed Companies in Asia, the Best in Corporate Governance, one of the Greenest Companies in the Philippines, and hailed as the world’s Most Efficient Water Company.”

“In 2011, he was recognized by the World Economic Forum as the new Sustainability Champion for his efforts as President of the Company,” it added.

Mr. dela Cruz’s resignation happened in the same week that the Supreme Court upheld fines amounting to nearly P2 billion on state-led Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and private concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. for violations of environmental law.

The court voted unanimously, 14-0, to uphold the decision of the Court of Appeals that found the water agency and its concessionaires liable for violating Section 8 of Republic Act No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

Maynilad and Manila Water are each jointly liable with MWSS to pay P921.5 million covering the period May 7, 2009 to Aug. 6, 2019 or the date of promulgation of the decision. The court also fined them the initial amount of P322,102 per day subject to 10% increase every two years until full compliance with RA 9275.

In April, MWSS imposed a penalty on Manila Water amounting to P1.134 billion, including a P534.05 million fine and P600 million to help fund the development of a new water supply source. The fine will be refunded to consumers.

The penalty is in relation to the water shortage that started in March in the area being served by the concessionaire.

The company eventually voluntarily waived the minimum charge for its entire client base in March. It also waived a full month’s bill for its most severely affected customers at a cost of nearly P500 million, Mr. dela Cruz earlier said.

Mr. Dela Cruz announced the waiver scheme on March 26 to compensate customers after the water shortage hit them. He had said that if the computation is confined to the waiver of the minimum charge, the cost could reach P150 million.

Before him, Manila Water accepted the resignation in April of Geodino V. Carpio, its chief operating officer, who took “early retirement.” Mr. Carpio first faced reporters on March 12 to explain the water supply problems, which the company said started on March 6.

On Friday, Manila Water fell 1.32% to close at P22.50. — Victor V. Saulon

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