Senator Grace Poe (File photo) 

MANILA – Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) needs to do more to ensure that its concessionaires fulfill their obligations, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Senator Grace Poe said, "Slapping fines on those who fail their obligations is not enough."

This, after the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO) penalized Maynilad PHP27.48 million this week for failing to supply water to consumers in the south of Metro Manila who are serviced by its Putatan Water Treatment Plant.

This is the third time Maynilad has been fined for problems in relation to its Putatan plant. Last year, they were already fined twice for the same problem.

"The MWSS must step up and take its role as regulator accordingly and effectively," said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on Public Services.

“At some point, the MWSS-RO should recognize that its fines are not working with Maynilad," she added.

Customers in Las Piñas, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and some parts of Cavite were reported to have suffered serious water interruptions during the Christmas holidays that started early in December, with some experiencing water interruptions even until this week.

Earlier, when MWSS fined Manila Water over PHP1 billion in 2019, the latter improved its services and had not been fined again.

Maynilad’s net income exceeded PHP6 billion in 2021 and 2020, according to its 2021 financial statement.

"With all that declared income earned by the concessionaire as many consumers' taps turned dry, not only do they ask why the fine remains small in relation to the extent of their suffering, but also why they have to continue to live with such inconvenience," Poe said.

She reminded that regulators are supposed to be protecting consumers and Maynilad but its customers in the south have been dealing with the same situation for two consecutive Christmases already.

On Tuesday, the MWSS-RO announced that it has decided to require Maynilad to rebate a total amount of PHP27,477,617 its customers within the Putatan Water Treatment Plant Supply Zone who were deprived of uninterrupted 24-hour water service from December 2022 to January 2023. (PNA)