WATER rates increase greeted Metro Manila consumers at the start of 2019. Along with the loud bangs and booms of the new year was a public clamor to suspend the implementation of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) resolution which allowed water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water to increase water charges. For the ordinary city dweller now burdened by the soaring prices of prime commodities, this added expense to water is surely unacceptable.
It may be recalled that the MWSS approved the petition of Maynilad Water Services, Inc., and Manila Water Co., Inc to charge additional P0.64 per cubic meter and P1.48 per cubicmeter, respectively, beginning Jan. 1, 2019. This increase translates to about P3 to P5 monthly increase in the water bills of consumers who use up to a minimum of 10 cubic meters per month. Manila Water provides water services to approximately 6 million people in the eastern part of Metro Manila, while Maynilad caters to the water needs of those in the western part of the Metro. These private companies are able to provide water services to residents of Metro Manila by virtue of a concession agreement with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
In light of the public’s opposition to the questionable water rate increase, it is perhaps time to revisit the concession contract entered by MWSS with Maynilad and Manila Water in order to determine whether consumers’ interests are guaranteed and balanced with the interests of the two private companies. MWSS should suspend the implementation of the water rate hike and re-assess the premises upon which the water concessionaires’ petition for increase was granted.
As was mentioned, the surging prices of basic commodities are already saddling the people. They cannot be saddled them even more with added strains in water expenses.
I reiterate my humble proposition for the creation of a Department of Water Resources Management that will not only safeguard water sources in the country but as well as ensure economical and efficient water services in partnership with the MWSS and the LWUA. As water is a primary commodity that households and industries utilize, policy decisions should be formulated considering foremost its perceived impacts on the lives of the people.