Offer grace period on bills, water firms told

Credit to Author: Jordeene B. Lagare| Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2020 16:29:41 +0000

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has ordered Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. to provide their customers some relief from paying their water bills, after which the two concessionaires promised to follow.

In an advisory on Wednesday, MWSS chief regulator Patrick Lester Ty said the two water companies were directed to grant customers a 30-day grace period to settle their water bills due between mid-March and end-May, when Metro Manila was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ, and the first half of August, when MECQ was again reimposed on the capital.

They were also ordered to implement a three-month payment installment scheme for all cooperatives; micro, small and medium enterprises; and domestic customers after the moratorium.

Ty said these would “provide customers ample time to update payments for water bills that fell due within the August 4 to 18, 2020 MECQ period without incurring interests, penalties and other charges.”

In a text message, Maynilad corporate communications head Jennifer Rufo said the Pangilinan-led firm “will comply with the guidelines, as we have always done.”

Jeric Sevilla Jr., Manila Water corporate communications head, said in a separate text message that the Ayala-led company would follow the MWSS order, since it had been providing extended payment terms to its customers.

According to him, ECQ bills were initially given six months to settle their bills.

“We have put off disconnection of services since the imposition of [the] ECQ. Also, Manila
Water does not charge customers with interest and penalties,” Sevilla said.

Manila Water will further discuss with the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO) the agency’s directive on the installment scheme, “since we have been extending promissory arrangements with our customers for all bills, ECQ, MECQ or not.”

These arrangements range from three to six months, depending on the customer’s paying capabilities. Customers are given 60 days to settle their bills before their water connections are cut.

The MWSS issued the advisory in solidarity with the spirit and intentions of Republic Act 11494, or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act,” which President Rodrigo Duterte signed on September 11.