City Council gives MPIW more time to submit papers

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Iloilo City Council granted Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) a 10-day extension to submit documents related to their proposed water rate increase per cubic meter.

This extension was approved on Wednesday, July 3, after MPIW failed to provide the requested documents during a City Council committee meeting on June 10.

Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, chairman of the Committee of the Whole, said he sent a letter to MPIW and the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) requesting the following documents, as discussed during the June 10 committee hearing:

  • Annexes of the Joint Venture Agreement between METROPAC and MIWD, creating Metro Iloilo Bulk Water Corporation.
  • Annexes of the Joint Venture Agreement between METROPAC and MIWD, creating Metro Pacific Iloilo Water.
  • Completion reports of the projects MIWD is setting up.
  • MIWD’s five-year action plan.

Nearly a month later, in his progress report during the regular session this week, Vice Mayor Ganzon mentioned that MPIW informed him they only officially received the request letter on July 3.

Councilor Rex Sarabia, chairperson of the Committee on Appropriations, emphasized that MPIW was informed during the committee session to provide the City Council with the documents, and formal communication was unnecessary.

“We requested the documents right there and then. One month has passed, and they have not provided anything yet. We need transparency to study the increase,” he said.

“There should have been an earnest effort to comply with the City Council’s request because we represent the residents. We are speaking on behalf of the people. I hope they treat the procedures with sanctity,” he added.

Sarabia stressed that the requested documents would help them decide whether there is a valid reason for the proposed increase.

“One of the main concerns is whether they have profits or losses. They allege that they are incurring losses. We need hard data to substantiate their claims,” he explained.

Despite MPIW’s commitment, Sarabia acknowledged that the City Council lacks the authority to issue a subpoena and cite the company for contempt, but noted that MPIW’s failure to comply is “a breach of goodwill and trust.”

Before the June 10 hearing, Public Utilities Committee Chairperson Councilor Romel Duron sent a letter on June 6 to MPIW and MIWD, requesting the following:

  • Joint Venture Agreement between METROPAC and MIWD creating Metro Iloilo Bulk Water Corporation.
  • Joint Venture Agreement between METROPAC and MIWD creating MPIW.
  • Water Supply agreement between Metro Iloilo Bulk Water and MPIW.

MIWD responded that for the first two items, they need the prior written consent of the other parties as required by section 29.1 of the Joint Venture Agreement.

“We are also required to seek the approval of the Board after obtaining said consent,” the company added.

For the third request, MIWD stated it is not aware of the existence of the water supply agreement between Metro Iloilo Bulk Water and MPIW.

MIWD has applied to the Local Water Utilities Administration to raise the basic rate from P20.00 to P29.00 per cubic meter.

They explained that the rate adjustment is intended to support MPIW’s investment in upgrading MIWD’s assets and pipelines, as well as projects within the Metro Iloilo Concession Area.

MPIW previously emphasized that it has not raised the tariff rate in six years, and it remains one of the lowest in Metro Iloilo despite the rising costs of bulk water supply rates, fuel prices, and manpower costs.

As of April 2024, MPIW serves almost 29,000 water service connections, or 31 percent of Iloilo City.

By the end of 2024, Iloilo City is projected to need 47 million liters of water per day (MLD) to ensure continuous water availability for residents.

Currently, due to aging and damaged pipes resulting in Non-Revenue Water (NRW) or system/commercial losses, MPIW’s billed volume is 29 MLD, with an NRW rate of 44% as of the end of 2023, equating to a loss of 18 MLD.

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