By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) has agreed to implement a rebate to some of its customers in Las Piñas City who experienced days of water interruption in May but only as a gesture of goodwill.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said Maynilad already accepted the financial penalty imposed to it by MWSS Board of Trustees “as a gesture of goodwill but without any admission of guilt.”
The penalty was due to Maynilad’s alleged failure to comply with its service obligations under the concession agreement — which requires the company to provide 24/7 water services to its customers — when portions of Barangay Captain Albert Aguilar (CAA) in Las Piñas City ran out of water.
Those severely affected in the aforementioned barangay were said to have been deprived of water service with a minimum pressure of seven pounds per square inch (psi) for a period of more than 15 days.
Because of this, Maynilad was ordered to rebate to the consumers that were severely affected in the identified area the amount of P2,500 per water service connection or household. This will be applied to August water bills or statements of account until expended.
For his part, Maynilad President and Chief Executive Officer Ramoncito S. Fernandez recognized that there was indeed a water interruption, but he said it wasn’t his company’s fault.
“We wrote to them [MWSS-RO] and gave them our reasoning why we don’t deserve it [the penalty] because the reason for the interruption is a combination of the algal bloom together with the lower level in Angat which reduced our total water production,” Fernandez told reporters on the sidelines of MWSS Water Forum and Awards 2019.
“Our appeal was no rebate or compromise at lower rebate but we leave it to their discretion,” he added.
But Ty, who was in the same event, said in a separate interview that Maynilad can’t claim force majeure if the problem can be anticipated.
“Every year there is an algae problem. They are the ones responsible for that, they selected the Laguna Lake project, the technology, the extraction point of water,” Ty said.
Right now, MWSS-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) is still validating the data provided by Maynilad, which specified that only 1,814 households were severely affected by the water interruption.
“The number [1,814] came from them. But we will still investigate because there might still be more. We cannot just accept that, we have to double check also. But they already said they will pay,” Ty said.
“We want to make sure that those who are entitled to a rebate will be given rebate,” he added.
It was last month when MWSS Board of Trustees has resolved to penalize Maynilad for its failure to comply with its Service Obligations under the Concession Agreement.
This came weeks after Maynilad had to implement service interruption to some 290,000 households in the South after finding out that there’s “unusual algae proliferation” in Laguna Lake.
The proliferation of algae, according to the company, was due to the warmer temperature brought by El Niño.
To meet its service obligation in the South, Maynilad currently taps water in Laguna Lake through its Putatan Water Treatment Plant.