Press Release
January 7, 2015

Trillanes seeks to investigate water rate hikes

Senator Antonio "Sonny" F. Trillanes IV files Proposed Senate Resolution 1089, calling for an investigation on the rate hikes implemented by the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila, Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services, effective 5 January of this year.

"The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, as well as Maynilad and Manila Water, has a lot of explaining to do on this recent water rate hikes. Instead of executing the 2013 MWSS-mandated water-rate reductions due to the alleged illegal charges they passed on to consumers, these water concessionaires welcomed us this year with new questionable rate increases," said Trillanes.

The Manila Water increased their cost per cubic meter this year by P 0.36 which purportedly translates to an additional P 20.26 for a household consuming about 30 cubic meters of water a month, while Maynilad posted a P 0.38 increase per cubic meter, purportedly amounting to about P 9.15 for a consumption of 30 cubic meters of water.

Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Gerry Esquivel said they approved the request of Manila Water and Maynilad to increase water rates as part of their foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) to reflect the change of the value of the peso against other currencies.

This, however, was questioned by the Water for All Reform Movement (WARM), stating that the FCDA is not enough reason for the water concessionaires to increase rates since the consumers are already paying for the Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA) every time there are movements in the foreign currency rates. According to WARM, only one of these should be shouldered by the public.

These initial round of water-rate increases is expected to be followed by another round of increase by Maynilad because the arbitration panel handling the appeal applied for by Maynilad in 2013, regarding the earlier round of basic water rate adjustment under the so called "rate rebasing adjustment," has allowed said increase in a ruling rendered last 29 December 2014. This would result to 9.8-percent increase in the 2013 average water charge of P31.28 per cubic meter, or an average increase of P3.06 per cubic meter.

Trillanes added that these rounds of water-rate hikes appear to be of questionable legality and constitutionality, and that the same would in fact be very insensitive to the plight of ordinary consumers who already have to contend with the MRT and LRT fare rate increases, spiraling inflation and the rising cost of living in the country, among many others, without any commensurate increases in their salaries and wages

"Furthermore, the consumers were not informed beforehand, much less consulted, about the latest water rate hikes approved by the MWSS Regulatory Office, which is apparently in violation of the constitutional provisions on due process, social justice, full public disclosure, people's participation and adequate consultation requirements," Trillanes stated on its resolution.

"With this investigation, we hope to ascertain the legality of these increases and enact remedial legislation to protect the interest of the public," noted Trillanes, who, in 2013, has questioned the annual corporate income taxes and other charges, including the travel and entertainment expenses, advertisements, donations, and training expenses, Manila Water and Maynilad have purportedly passed on to consumers.

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