Supreme Court (SC)
The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its 2019 decision that ordered Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Co., Inc., and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to pay fines for violations of the Philippine Clean Water Act (CWA) since 2009.
In a resolution made public last Oct. 18, the SC denied the motions for reconsideration by the MWSS and two water firms.
In its 2019 unanimous full court decision written by Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, the SC found the two water firms and MWSS to have violated Section 8 of CWA enacted in 2004 under Republic Act No. 9275.
Section 8 of the law provides: “Within five (5) years following the effectivity of this Act, the agency vested to provide water supply and sewerage facilities and/or concessionaires in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities (HUCs) as defined in Republic Act No. 7160, in coordination with LGUs, shall be required to connect the existing sewage line found in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers, hotels, sports and recreational facilities, hospitals, market places, public buildings, industrial complex and other similar establishments including households to available sewerage system….”
Maynilad and Manila Water were found to have failed to put up sewage lines and sewage treatment facilities during the period as mandated by the law.
The decision stated: “Section 8 is not to be overthought: it provides that within five years from the CWA’s effectivity, petitioners are required to connect sewage lines, and they are expected to complete the required connections after the five-year period. To accede to MWSS’ arguments is absurd. Infrastructure cannot be deemed usable at groundbreaking stage, and laws must never be interpreted to the detriment of the consuming public.”
“Withal, it remains that petitioners (MWSS, Maynilad and Manila Water) violated Sec. 8 of the CWA as regards their legal duty to interconnect sewage lines,” the decision also stated.
The decision ruled that:
“Maynilad shall be jointly and severally liable with the MWSS for a total amount of P921,464,184 covering the period May 7, 2009 date of promulgation (Aug. 6, 2019).
“Manila Water shall be jointly and severally liable with MWSS for the same amount and period.
“Shall pay the fine within 15 days from receipt of the Decision.
“From receipt of the decision until Petitioners have fully paid the amount stated, Petitioners shall be fined the initial amount of P322,102.00/day subject to further 10 per cent increase every two years as provided under Section 28 of the Philippine Clean Water Act, until full compliance with Section 8 of the same law.
“Legal interest of 6 per cent per annum until fully satisfied.”
The SC decision upheld the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling which affirmed the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which imposed fines on MWSS and water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad Water.
In its resolution that denied the motions for reconsideration, the SC, however, modified its 2019 decision as it lowered the fines imposed on MWSS and the two firms.
The SC ruled that “Maynilad shall be jointly and severally liable with Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for a base amount of P30,000 per day of violation counting from May 7, 2009 until January 21, 2022, in the total amount of P202,256,756. 22.”
On the other hand, Manila Water “shall be jointly and solidarily liable with Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for the base amount of P30,000 per day of violation counting from May 7, 2009 until January 21, 2022, in the total amount of P202,256,726.22.”
It also ruled that the base amount of fines of P30,000 per day of violation “shall be subject to a 10 percent increase every two years beginning May 7, 2009 until January 21, 2022, following Section 28 of the Philippine Clean Water Act.”
MWSS, Maynilad and Manila Water were ordered to pay their respective fines within 15 days from receipt of the resolution.
The SC imposed a six percent legal interest per year on the total amount of fines from finality of the resolution until full payment.
It also ordered that “the total amounts herein indicated shall be deducted from the amount of fines already paid by petitioners, if any, and the difference, if any, shall be returned to them.”
The resolution was also written by Justice Hernando.
TAGS: #SC #MWSS #Manila Water #Maynilad #Clean Water Act
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