Members of the House of Representatives grilled the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the Manila Water Company during the hearing on Monday, March 18, for the water shortage that affected Metro Manila and the Rizal province.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate considers the MWSS as useless after chief regulator Patrick Ty admitted that they do not have the power to fine or penalize Manila Water for violating the water concession agreement.
“In the past days, sinasabi ng regulator natin na wala kaming magawa, huwag tayong magsisihan, pero lahat dito ay may kasalanan. In turn out ngayon, ang isang malaking problema natin ay ang ating regulator,” Zarate said.
Zarate mentioned that Manila Water, during the hearing, has showed willingness to pay penalties for the water crisis. However, the MWSS repeatedly stressed that they cannot impose penalties on the water concessionaire.
“I think, isa sa may pinaka-malaking papel dito ay yung regulator because the MWSSRO (MWSS Regulatory Office) because of these two concession agreements,” Zarate added.
“Lumalabas dito yung tinatawag na regulatory capture. The regulator tinitignan lang niya, pinabayaan niya kahit may kakulangan yung concession,” Zarate elaborated.
The congressman insisted that the MWSS has allowed them to become useless as the regulating agency for the two water concessionaires: Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services.
“You kept on saying we are inutil, we are inutil because you allow yourself to be inutil as a regulator,” Zarate stressed.
“Ang regulatory office, we are inutil, kailangan pa namin ng legislation when in fact kahit kaunti nandiyan na sa kanila yung power na iyan. We can probably expand that but they are not actually inutil, they allowed themselves to be inutil,” he added.
Meanwhile, Caloocan City District Rep. Edgar Erice questioned the competence of Manila Water for not immediately acting when the shortage in the water supply of La Mesa Dam, the water concessionaire’s back-up supply of water, is already noticeable.
“Matatawag niyo ba na competence iyon na two weeks pa lang isang ordinaryo na tao nakikita na yung problema, magproprovide kayo ng solution after the fact? Bakit ganoon?” Erice asked.
“Bakit hindi niyo nakita iyon noon? Bakit yung mga solusyon na dapat niyo noon dapat noon niyo pa ginagawa?” Erice added.
He stressed that Manila Water should have been ‘hands on’ in implementing their contingency plans and proposed solutions as soon as they observed that the water level in La Mesa Dam has dropped.
Erice mentioned that Manila Water did not immediately sought assistance from Maynilad to prevent causing problems to consumers.
He believes that Manila Water could have approached Maynilad as early as January when the water in La Mesa Dam decreased. However, the former water concessionaire only asked help when their consumers already complained about the lack of water.
“Pwede naman pala magbigay na two million liters ang Maynilad bakit hindi kaagad naisip iyan?” Erice said.
“Kung nakita niyo na na magkakaroon ng problema yung mga consumer niyo, kung sensitive kayo sa problema ng mga consumer niyo dapat January pa lang humingi kayo ng tulong,” Erice stressed.
Various lawmakers also called for the resignation of officials in the MWSS and Manila Water due to the shortage in the water supply.