The Supreme Court has imposed massive fines on private water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water and the government’s Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for their noncompliance with the Clean Water Act.
Voting 14-0, the Court fined Maynilad and MWSS P921,464,184 and separately fined Manila Water and MWSS the same amount. The fine covers the period of May 7, 2009, five years after the law was enacted, to Tuesday, the day the decision was promulgated.
They were ordered to pay within 15 days from receipt of the decision.
They were also fined P322,102.00 per day starting the day they receive a copy of the decision until they have fully settled the multimillion-peso fine, said Court spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka.
In imposing the fines, the Court affirmed earlier rulings by the Court of Appeals (CA) and denied a petition filed by the MWSS and the private concessionaires in a decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando.
“Hence, petitioners [Maynilad, Manila Water, MWSS] are found liable for violation of Sec. 8 of the Philippine Clean Water Act,” Hosaka said, citing the Court’s ruling.
Section 8 requires the connection of existing sewage line in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers and other establishments, including households, to an available sewerage system.
A source said the Court found the concessionaires failed to put up sewage lines and sewage treatment facilities.
The decision stems from a case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the source said, adding that the fines accumulated because the law imposes a daily fine.
Under the law, the daily fine increases by 10 percent every two years until full compliance with Section 8.
In 2009, the DENR slapped a P29.4-million fine on MWSS, Maynilad, and Manila Water for their alleged failure to install and maintain wastewater treatment facilities within five years after the Clean Water Act was enacted in 2004.
The CA upheld the DENR’s decision in 2013.
MWSS declined to comment on the issue, saying it has not yet received a copy of the court decision.
“I haven’t received a copy… I have to read it first before I can comment,” MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty told GMA News Online.
Likewise, Manila Water Corporate Communications head Jeric Sevilla said the company has not yet received a copy of the order.
“None at the moment as we have not received a copy of the said decision yet,” Sevilla said.
Maynilad said it will file a motion for reconsideration.
“Maynilad has not yet received a copy of the Supreme Court decision but assuming the news is correct then we intend to file a motion for reconsideration within the allowed 15 days from receipt of the ruling,” said Maynilad Corporate Communications head Jennifer Rufo. — with Ted Cordero/BM, GMA News