Is water firm washing hands off condo owner’s complaint? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Readers are asking what transpired in the meeting among Manila Water Company Inc., Filinvest Land Inc. and condominium unit owner Rosebelle Roberto, who had complained she was being overcharged at P70 per cubic meter for her water bill.


The readers said they have the same problem in their own condos. One Facebook user said he was paying P90 per cubic meter in the unit he was renting in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.


Ms Roberto said the meeting had been postponed indefinitely.


But a letter from Salvador C. Reyes Jr., assistant vice president for Filinvest’s water collection services, said, “Ms Roberto is being charged according to the rates of Manila Water and based only on their actual water consumption. As per Manila Water’s policy, Sorrento Oasis Phase 2, with its ongoing construction activities, falls under industrial category, which has a higher per cubic meter rate. Even if a building is completely finished and already turned over to its residents, Manila Water will continue to charge industrial rates as long as there are other buildings being constructed in the same project phase.”


Reyes said Filinvest has complained to Manila Water about this policy in 2012, but Manila Water did not grant the request to “downgrade our water rates to the semibusiness rate of 24 to 28 pesos per cubic meter.”


Marvin J. Panday, Manila Water area business manager in Pasig City, said in a letter to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a copy of which was sent to Ms Roberto: “The tariff being imposed on the bulk connection which caters her (Ms Roberto’s) unit is the industrial rate due to the ongoing construction in Phase 2. Manila Water has no jurisdiction on the pass-on tariff to the unit owners.”


As far as MWSS is concerned, the only feedback I have received was an e-mail from Bong Cordova, customer service regulation, MWSS Regulatory Office, saying Ms Roberto’s complaint “has been referred to the Metering Efficiency Department, which is under the customer service regulation area of the MWSS Regulatory Office.” He mentioned that the meeting among Manila Water, Filinvest and Ms Roberto, “intended to address and resolve” the complaint, has been postponed.


The response brings up a new question. How exactly does MWSS perform its mandate to provide “adequate, safe, reliable and affordable (underscoring mine) water and sewerage services to Metro Manila…” and its mission to “deliver affordable water tariffs that will support the long term water security program for Metro Manila and all covered areas” if it apparently leaves the setting of rates to the water companies?


In this case, what exactly is its role? From Cordova’s letter, it appears MWSS is leaving it to the parties involved to resolve the matter.


Penalize coin hoarders


Sen. Sergio Osmeña III has filed Senate Bill No. 2452 that will penalize people who hoard Philippine coins to extract valuable metals. Hoarding is a major cause of coin shortage that leaves consumers literally shortchanged when they shop or take public utility vehicles (PUVs).


I hope the bill also entails penalties for people who show no respect for Philippine money, simply throwing away 5 and 10 centavo coins that are considered worthless, and/or those who refuse to accept them. Some people may have reason to think the coins are worthless, since PUVs and certain establishments do not want to accept them.


But the solution is for consumers to insist that coins be accepted instead of throwing them away.


I often pick up discarded coins on the street, knowing that the cost of producing them is about three times their value. I tell friends that if I get run over by a motor vehicle as I try to salvage the coins, tabloid headlines will probably go like this: “Woman picking up 10 centavo coins hit by bus.”


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