Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday urged the Manila Water Company, Inc. to properly compensate all its consumers affected by the water shortage in parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province.
During the hearing of the Senate committee on public services, Poe said consumers should be exempted from paying their bills as Manila Water failed to provide 24/7 water service in accordance with its concession agreements.
Poe, chair of the panel, said they would come up with “categorical and definite solutions” to address the issues at the end of the hearing.
“Ano ang aasahan ng ating mga kababayan? Kailan totally ma-address ang problemang ito? (What can the public expect? When will this water problem be addressed?),” she said.
“Are the consumers going to be compensated or will their bills be lower for this month? Or pwede bang libre muna sa mga affected consumers? (Or can affected consumers be exempted from paying?)” Poe added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Manila Water should at the very least provide a rebate to its affected customers as a form of penalty.
The concession agreement states that penalties received by the regulatory body will be rebated to customers affected by the concessionaire’s failure to meet its obligations.
“Pinakamababa yun rebate (The lowest would be a rebate). They should admit that when you mean rebate, it’s the same as a penalty or a fine,” Sotto said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, said Manila Water must compensate all affected households and businesses for lost time, gross inconvenience and loss of profit, noting that an apology without compensation is “hollow and meaningless.”
Hontiveros said all those exposed to health risks as a result of Manila Water’s failure to meet its service obligation should be fairly reimbursed, citing as an example the situation of the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI), which was forced to cut the number of its dialysis patients during the height of the water shortage.
“While Manila Water’s public apology and act to hold itself responsible for the water shortage are recognized, a fair and just compensation to the consumers is in order. It is one of the best ways to demonstrate its firm commitment to public accountability and restore consumer trust and confidence,” she said. (PNA)
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