Enrile seeks probe of P732-M advance collection of water concessionaire

September 22, 2010 10:09 am 

MANILA, Sept. 21 – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has sought an investigation of the alleged P732 million advance collection of the Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) from its consumers to supposedly rehabilitate the terminated Wawa Dam Project in Montalban, Rizal.

In his privilege speech, Enrile revealed that the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has authorized MWCI “to make advance collection of P732 million beginning 2003 even though the implementation of the Wawa Dam project has not even commenced.”

Enrile learned that MWSS has previously secured two technical assistance loans from the Asian Development Bank namely, the Manila North East Water Supply Project in 1992 and the Marikina River Water Supply Augmentation Project in 2004 supposedly for the study of the Wawa River Reactivation Project.

”The cost of these loans was paid for by the government using taxpayer’s money. However, until now, no development has ever been undertaken on the Wawa River System,” Enrile said.

In 1993, Enrile said the San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders (SLRB) applied with National Water Resources Board (NWRB) for a permit to develop the Wawa Water System at no cost to the government.

”However, it was only after more than a decade that the NWRB approved SLRB’s water application but only for a limited right covering only 3.48 cubic meter per second (cms), much lower than their original application for 40 cms,” Enrile said.

Enrile disclosed that when questions were raised as to who has the legal water rights over Wawa Dam, the project was aborted.

Of the P732 million collected by MWCI, P715 million was instead used to finance the accelerated implementation of the following projects: Curayao Well Field (P127 million); 600mm. pipe extension (P169 million), San Rafael (P36 million); and Accelerated Non-Revenue Water Reduction (P383 million).

“Note however, that the balance of P17 million still has to be accounted for. Where is it?” asked Enrile.

With this, Enrile sought a Senate inquiry into the issue to determine whether the MWSS committed an “abuse of discretion” when it allowed the MWCI to make such advance collections.

The veteran lawmaker said there was also a need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the “unreasonable” delay in the grant of water rights to the SLRB, on one hand, and on the other, the haste with which MWSS application was approved.

The NWRB was created in 1974 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 424 to take charge of the comprehensive development, utilization, conservation and protection of water resources through the issuance of water permits for water abstraction.

Enrile said NWRB’s mandate was eventually expanded to include economic regulation of waterworks operators except those falling under the jurisdiction of the MWSS and the Local Water Utilities Administration.

On the other hand, the MWSS was created under Republic Act No. 6234 and as a result of the water crisis in 1995, it entered into a 25-year concession contract in 1997 with two private concessionaires, namely, MWCI for east zone and the Maynilad Water Services, Inc. for the west zone. (PNA)



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