Party-list lawmaker bats for creation of MWSS "Truth" task force

August 16, 2010 10:51 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 15 — A party-list lawmaker has filed a resolution at the House of Representatives for the creation of a "Truth" task force at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) that would look into the alleged multi-million peso irregularities in the disbursement of funds of the water agency.

In filing House Resolution no. 137, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said the creation of a special body is needed to determine the veracity of reports that the MWSS board and management have abused their discretion in setting high salaries for the state water firm’s personnel and themselves and in allegedly granting "excessive remunerations, benefits and privileges without appropriate consultations, valid reasons and a sense of public decency."

The neophyte party-list solon said no less than President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III in his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last month who exposed to the public the unconscionable decisions made by the MWSS board in granting financial perks and privileges for themselves.

Herrera-Dy, a multi-awarded Quezon City councilor, noted that the Commission on Audit (CoA) confirmed the accusations made by the President when it ordered MWSS officials to refund a total P8.76 million in expenses for allowances, medical health benefits and incentive bonuses and other perks distributed in 2000.

Citing the 2008 annual audit report, Herrera-Dy said CoA discovered that the MWSS board approved over P500 million budget for the year despite the fact that the allocation had neither been reviewed nor approved by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

CoA questioned the expenditures approved by the board, including the P60-million car assistance program; grant of extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses ranging from P300,000 to P1.92 million; the distribution of hazard pay totaling P1.74 million; and the payment of P3.97 million in additional transportation allowances.

Aside from looking into the alleged abuses, the lady solon said, the task force should also conduct an inventory and preserve MWSS assets, look into the MWSS retirement benefits program and investigate anomalies in the implementation of the MWSS Housing program and the sewerage and water supply improvement contracts for projects that include the Laiban Dam, Wawa Water Reliability Project and the Pinugay Sewerage Treatment Project.

Meanwhile, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson welcomed the creation of a special body that would determine the veracity of reports that the MWSS management and board of trustees have transformed the water agency into a virtual milking cow. (PNA)

LDV/LGI

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