The Supreme Court (SC) has drastically reduced the close to P2 billion fine it slapped on the country’s two largest water concessionaires for failing to put up wastewater treatment and sewage facilities.
In an en banc decision issued on October 18, the SC slashed the fine by 78 percent to P202.256 million each on MWC and Maynilad from the P921.464 million it imposed in 2019.
The SC found it “fairer” to reduce the daily fine from P200,000 to P30,000 from May 2009 to January 2022 (MWC and Maynilad obtained new franchises in December 2021 which extended their 100 percent compliance to the CWA to 2037).
In the 25-page decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, the SC considered MWC and Maynilad’s good faith and efforts to comply with the Clean Water Act which required them to put up a wastewater treatment plant and an interconnected sewage system.
“The 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 the compliance with the CWA, belie any ill will on their part that should not be punished with severest brunt of the law,” the SC said.
The SC said the regulator, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), has to take full responsibility for the failure to achieve the CWA goals.
The High Court said the CWA goals were merely delegated to MWC and Maynilad and their actions “shall generally redound to the ultimate responsibility of the MWSS being the water concessionaires supervisor and principal.”
Maynilad is controlled by the First Pacific group led by Manny V. Pangilinan and the Consunji family. MWC is led by ultra bilyonaryo Enrique “Ricky” K. Razon, who took over from the Ayala group in January 2021.
The decision was concurred by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Amy Lazaro-Javier and Henri Jean Paul Inting. Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa did not take part in the ruling.