Akbayan Partylist’s Statement on Manila Water Acceding to the Public’s ZERO-SINGIL Demand

Manila Water’s recent pronouncement of waiving its water bills, including its minimum charges, is a win for aggrieved consumers severely affected by the water crisis who asserted not to pay for the company's failed service. 

In a Senate hearing on March 19, Senator Risa Hontiveros demanded accountability from Manila Water for residents who bore the brunt of the water crisis. On Tuesday, Manila Water President Ferdinand dela Cruz announced “a voluntary and one-time bill waiver scheme that will be reflected in the April bill of our customers”. Manila Water will waive the minimum charge for March, which will be reflected in the April water bill. “Sa mga pinaka-apektado, we are going to waive their March consumption”, dela Cruz added. 

The water concessionaire acceding to the public’s ZERO-SINGIL demand is a welcome development that partly compensates the health risks and loss of income that the public faced during the peak of the loss of water supply early this month. 

On World Water Day, Akbayan Partylist Representative Tom Villarin demanded Manila Water to pay PHP 4.1 million to the Department of Health (DOH) over issues in health centers arising from the water crisis cited in the agency's report.

"Manila Water should be taught a lesson: when you cause a crisis, you should pay for it," the partylist solon said.

Citing data obtained from the Department of Health (DOH), Villarin said that 6 public hospital hospitals suffered total losses of P 4.116 M at the height of the water crisis.

He said that from March 8-18, the Rizal Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), National Center for Mental Health, East Avenue Medical Center and the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center sustained added operational costs amounting to P 1.372 M.

Meanwhile, from March 12-18, the Rizal Medical Center and the NKTI incurred etimated revenue losses of P 630,000 and P 1.750 M, respectively, or a total of P 2.380 M as a result of limiting patients due to the limited water supply.

Residents of Mandaluyong City rushed outside their houses on Friday morning with neither pails nor buckets, but pens to sign  the “Zero-Singil Petition” urging Manila Water to waive any and all charges in the next water bill.

The petition aims to gather the support of 10,000 Filipinos all over Metro Manila, who believe that consumers should be compensated and repaid for the severe inconvenience that Manila Water has admittedly caused.

“Hindi porke’t nag-sorry at umamin, okay na. Bumalik man ang tubig sa gripo, di basta-basta maibabalik ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa Manila Water bilang service provider ng tubig,” stressed Tristan Bringas of Akbayan Partylist-NCR.

“Dapat pagbayaran ang perwisyong idinulot ng krisis, hindi lang sa tubig, kundi krisis sa pamamalakad ng Manila Water,” he added

More than a million Filipinos were variedly affected by the water crisis, leaving exposed to serious health risks due to poor hygiene and sanitation, particularly those in hospitals, medical facilities, and even schools.

The residents and their supporters are expected to submit the petition before the MWSS and Manila Water next week, as a demand for equity in the administration of water as a public utility. #

 

Following Malacañang's announcement to release water from Angat Dam, Akbayan Partylist spokesperson Gio Tingson urged Malacañang to prioritize urban poor communities of clean water supply to avert disease outbreaks.

"Clean water supply should prioritize poor families in highly-populated areas. There are dangers of disease outbreaks in poor communities if this water crisis worsens and water supply continue to go to commercial and luxury areas," Gio Tingson said.

"Poor families will need the clean water to prepare for work or school. Mothers and their infants need clean water for sanitation. Interrupted supply of clean water can also adversely affect infants feeding on formula. Their basic needs should be met first with the water supply”, he added. “Do we continue unbridled operation in golf courses, water parks and other luxury establishments that could waste so much water in this time of need?” Tingson asked. 

Health experts pose alarm on dangerous diseases in areas where there is water shortage. Dengue cases could rise further in improper waste storages. Diseases like diarrhea, cholera and dysentery could spread quickly among children in poor communities when families turn to unsafe water, Akbayan Partylist cited. 

Student leaders of the University of the Philippines- Diliman (UPD), Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde (DLSU-CSB) with Akbayan Partylist nominee Gio Tingson unite  to urge for the passage of the Safe Spaces Act into law.

“Ang mga paaralan ay institutions of learning, hindi institutions of lurking, stalking or catcalling,” said Gio Tingson.

“Seryoso ang Akbayan Partylist sa pagtiyak na ang mga paaralan ay Safe Spaces laban sa sexual harassment. Mumultahan ang mga school heads na hindi nag-iimplement ng mga responsibilidad nila sa batas,” Tingson said.

“24 years old na ang Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995. Noong ito ay pinasa noon, wala pang social media, wala pang camera ang mga cellphone at iba pa ang kultura at estado ng mga babae at LGBT,” UP Diliman Councilor Pat Nicdao said.