MWSS, two utilities face host of raps

Published by reposted only Date posted on December 29, 2009

Criminal and administrative charges were filed against the water utility regulator in greater Metro Manila and two water concessionaires serving the capital region for failing to build sewerage plants as mandated by law.

In a 12-page complaint filed earlier December but discovered only recently by The Manila Times, a certain Martin Voltaire Perez, who described himself as a consumer and taxpayer, noted that building wastewater-treatment facilities was covered by a provision in Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act of 2004, to help ensure clean drinking water. Without such facilities, untreated sewerage continue to be dumped into bodies of water.

Also in his complaint, Perez noted that Congress enacted the Clean Air Act on March 22, 2004. And despite the fact five years have passed, no action has been taken by neither the state-run Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), nor by its concessionaires—the Ayala-owned Manila Water Services Inc., which serves the East Zone of Metro Manila, and the Maynilad Water Services Inc., which covers the West Zone.

Respondents in complaint

Key officials the MWSS were charged with Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct for Government Officials and Employees. Those charged were the regulator’s Chairman Oscar Garcia, Vice Chairman and Administrator Diosdado Jose Allado, Chief Regulator Manuel Quizon, as well as Board of Trustees members Aurora Arnaez, Lorenzo Sulaik, Alfred Reyes and Ferdinand Mahusay.

Also charged before the Ombudsman were Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman Manila Water and Board of Directors members Charles Thomas Cornish, Hiromu Nishimura, Cielito Habito and Oscar Reyes. The respondents from Maynilad include Chairman Herbert Consunji, President Rogelio Singson and the members of the board of directors.

The petitioner also asked the Ombudsman to subpoena the financial statements of the water utility regulator and the two concessionaires from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

While the regulator and the concessionaires earn millions, they have been remiss in their obligation to ensure clean water by failing to build sewerage-treatment plants, Perez said in his petition.

“The continuous failure of the respondents to immediately complete the establishment of the waste water treatment facilities would further result in the discharge of untreated wastewater from industries and households in the region directly into the Manila Bay,” he added. –Jomar Canlas Reporter, Manila Times

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