MWSS to water firms: Extend grace period for bills payment

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Regulator says order gives customers ample time to pay water bills that fell due from Aug. 4 to 18. — PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE regulatory office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has directed Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co., Inc. to provide customers with a grace period and a three-month installment mode for the payment of bills that fall during the stricter lockdown periods.

In a statement on Wednesday, MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty ordered the water concessionaires to provide customers with a 30-day grace period to pay their bills during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) periods.

Mr. Ty also told the water providers to implement a three-month installment payment method after the grace period for all cooperatives; micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and domestic customers.

He added that the order is in accordance with the intentions of Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II).

A provision under Bayanihan II mandates all utility companies providing electricity, water, and telecommunications services, among others, to provide a minimum 30-day grace period for the payment of bills that fall during the ECQ or MECQ periods.

“The said directives will provide customers ample time to update payments for water bills that fell due within August 4 to August 18, or the MECQ period, without incurring interests, penalties and other charges,” Mr. Ty said.

Sought for comment, representatives of the two water concessionaires said that they would fully comply with the MWSS directive.

“We will comply with the guidelines, as we have always done,” Maynilad Head of Corporate Communications Jennifer C. Rufo said in a mobile phone message.

Meanwhile, Manila Water Corporate Strategic Affairs Head Nestor Jeric T. Sevilla said in a mobile phone message that the company would abide with the directive in accordance with Bayanihan II.

Mr. Sevilla said that Manila Water had also postponed disconnection activities, adding that it had been practicing extended payment terms for customers.

“All bills during the ECQ since March were given initially six months to settle their bills until September 30. The 30-day grace period especially for those MECQ bills covering August 4 to 18 will provide them further relief,” Mr. Sevilla said.

“Before any current bill gets disconnected, there is already a 60-day window for customers to pay their bills,” he added.

Meanwhile, MWSS’ Mr. Ty assured that the regulatory office would do everything to lessen the financial burden on consumers resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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