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Audit of billions collected for water projects urged


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel…” (Proverbs 20:17, the Holy Bible).

BILLIONS OF PESOS FOR INEXISTENT WATER PROJECTS?Something really disturbing for water users in Metro Manila was disclosed last Thursday, June 13, 2013, by R. J. Javellana, the president of the “Water for All Refund Movement”, about billions of pesos in monthly collections having been authorized allegedly by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage and System (MWSS) from the customers of Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company for non-existent projects.

In an interview with radio station DZXL RMN Manila (at 558 khz.) at the program “BAKAL” or “Balita, Kaalaman at Latigo” hosted by broadcaster Melchor Balawas of Kalinga, Ifugao, Javellana said the collections were made both by Maynilad and Manila Water around 1997, at the start of their concession agreements with MWSS, for specific projects which, up to now, have not even been pursued.

Javellana cited the collections for sewerage pipes that were aimed to inter-connect the homes of water customers to a giant water and waste disposal system to prevent outbreak of deadly diseases like dengue, diarrhea, and other stomach or intestine ailments arising from dirty water, as well as collections for the reforestation of the surroundings of the dams that feed fresh water to the reservoir from which water is filtered and later on distributed in Metro Manila.

AUDIT OF BILLIONS COLLECTED FOR WATER PROJECTS URGED: But, despite the collections having been started sixteen years ago and the amount having already reached billions of pesos, the sewerage pipe-project and the reforestation program have neither been started, nor pursued, nor completed, Javellana told the audience of broadcaster Melchor Balawas.

This is the reason why Javellana’s organization, the “Water for All Refund Movement”, has been opposing the current applications of Maynilad and Manila Water for rate increases. “They must first refund to all of us what they collected in advance for projects that never materialized,” he said.

Javellana said his group is also seeking a Commission on Audit accounting of the collections to determine exactly how much Maynilad and Manila Water already collected as of now, and to find out how the money was spent or where did it go. “We are dealing here with billions and billions of pesos of customer money,” Javellana added.

PLUNDER RAPS MULLED: The group is also asking the government to stop the practice of the two water concessionaires in effecting advance collections for projects that are supposed to be funded by their owners’ money or capital. The owners should not be allowed to use the money of their customers to fund their expansion or any other aspect of their business, because when they were granted the contracts to operate as concessionaires, it was presumed that they had the necessary money to operate, the group added.

“It is only in the Philippines that this kind of a formula for operating a business---that of allowing businessmen to collect from their customers the money they needed to engage in business---is being used and allowed even by the government,” Javellana said.

Balawas said, at the end of his program, that Javellana’s group is set to file plunder charges against top officials of the MWSS over this issue. Maybe the case should also include the private businessmen who conspired with the MWSS to collect billions of pesos as advance contributions from water users for inexistent projects.

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