SC affirms ruling vs MWSS, Manila Water, Maynilad but with lower fines
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its August 2019 decision that found the Metropolitan Water Works and Sewerage System (MWSS) and concessionaires Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Co. liable for violating Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act.
In its ruling, the SC said MWSS shall be “jointly and solidarily liable” with Maynilad and Manila Water to pay the base amount of P30,000.00 per day of violation, counting from May 7, 2009, until January 21, 2022.
The SC also said the base amount of fines of P30,000.00 per day of violation shall be subject to a 10 percent increase every two years beginning May 7, 2009, until January 21, 2022, following the provisions under the Philippine Clean Water Act.
The total amount of fines imposed, according to SC, shall also earn a legal interest of six percent per annum from the finality of the resolution until full payment.
The latest total fines, however, would be less than the around P2-billion fine imposed in the SC’s August 2019 ruling.
MWSS and the two water firms were fined after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discovered in 2009 that the three were just 16 percent done in building sewage facilities. MWSS, Maynilad, and Manila Water are expected to fully comply with the law by 2030.
The failure of these agencies to put up sewage facilities, according to the DENR, is a major factor in the deterioration of Manila Bay.
In 2008, the Supreme Court ordered the DENR and other concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay to a condition suitable for public bathing and swimming and for breeding bangus (milkfish) and similar fish species.
READ: What happened to SC order to save Manila Bay?
This led to the DENR’s imposition of fines against MWSS, Maynilad, and Manila Water, which then elevated the matter before the Court of Appeals (CA) and then to the SC. Both courts ruled against the petitioners.
In reducing the fine, the SC noted the petitioners’ efforts to comply as it noted that Manila Water’s and Maynilad’s target numbers for 2021 in terms of sewer coverage were 55 percent and 66 percent, respectively.
READ: Manila Water strengthens its wastewater master plan in support of sustainable development
Manila Water also said it had connected existing sewage lines of at least 61,166 households and establishments to available sewerage systems resulting in at least 97 percent interconnection.
Maynilad, however did not provide a specific number of its actual sewer service coverage.
“Even so, there are no discounting petitioners’ actual efforts to desludge septic tanks on a house-to-house basis in lieu of sewerage interconnections, and their conduct of other significant and related works in accordance with their mandate under the concession agreements,” the SC said, adding that their acts are an indication of good faith.
“Petitioners may have been wanting in their obligations but their exertion of a considerable level of obedience thereto, plus the fact that they had undergone corporate hardship during the most critical time of compliance, belie any ill will on their part that should not be punished with the severest brunt of the law,” it added.
The SC further said it “reconsiders its initial judgment to inflict the maximum amount imposable…Petitioners’ infractions still deserve a penalty graver than the least amount of the imposable fine under the CWA.”
SC imposes almost P2B fine on MWSS, Maynilad, Manila Water
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