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Tinio says MWSS regulator not powerless as Ty claims, tells him: Step up or step down

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ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio on Wednesday expressed dismay at the remarks of the chief regulator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Patrick Ty suggesting his office was powerless to punish Manila Water over the water crisis in Metro Manila.

“We were utterly dismayed at the spectacle of the MWSS Chief Regulator Atty. Patrick Lester N. Ty pleading before Congress that his office is powerless to impose fines or penalties on Manila Water,” the Makabayan lawmaker said.

He said it was a shame Ty made such a comment “despite acknowledging that Manila Water has failed to meet its service obligation of providing uninterrupted water service to more than 6.3 million consumers in its service area.”

Ty, according to Tinio, “is spouting utter nonsense.”

Under Article 10.4 of the concession agreement between MWSS and Manila Water, the MWSS regulatory office has “ample powers to penalize the latter when it is unable to fulfill its service obligations as outlined in the agreement.”

“Furthermore, it is mandated to use the penalties collected to rebate consumers affected by the service interruption,” Tinio said.

“What can the MWSS RO do in the current crisis, when half the population of Metro Manila must endure daily interruptions of water supply? Under the terms of the Agreement, If the service interruptions continue for 15 days – almost a certainty, since, by Manila Water’s own admission, the water shortage could last until June – the Regulatory Office can assess a financial penalty against Manila Water,” he said.

“How much can the RO impose? It shall be ‘equal to 25 percent of the costs that, in the reasonable opinion of the Regulatory Office, the Concessionaire will incur in order to meet the Service Obligation in question’,” he said, citing the agreement.

“The assessment can go up to 50 percent of costs if Manila Water fails to fix the problem within 6 months,” he added.

Furthermore, this penalty “shall not be regarded as an Expenditure of the Concession,” meaning that Manila Water must pay out of its own pocket and not recover the amount from its consumers by charging them extra, Tinio said.

“When can the MWSS RO impose the penalty on Manila Water? Contrary to Chief Regulator Ty’s absurd claim before Congress that they must wait until the next round of rate rebasing in 2022 to impose penalties, the Concession Agreement clearly provides that Manila Water must pay the fine ‘within 30 days after receipt of a demand thereof’,” he said.

“If they fail to pay, the MWSS RO can deduct the amount from Manila Water’s Performance Bond or impose an Extraordinary Rate Adjustment,” he added.

Tinio said Ty “must step up” in performing his duties.

“If he can’t do his job, then he should resign or be replaced by someone who’s willing and able to stand up for the welfare of the public,” he said.