TWG on Energy and Other Utilities


The Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations, Inc. or CREBA is rallying behind a consumer advocacy group called the Water for All Refund Movement or WARM to compel government to take swift action in addressing the lingering problem of high water rates that has continued to hound millions of water consumers in the country. Specifically CREBA and WARM are calling upon government regulators to act on the unabated rise in water cost.

CREBA, the largest real estate and housing development group in the country, also batted for strong support to various advocacy groups and individuals, who, in their bid to put an end to unconscionable hikes in water prices, have raised issues in the regulatory governance of the water sector. This is because real estate industry stakeholders strongly believe that the problem on water services could threaten the growth of the housing industry particularly in areas that suffer from ineffective water service delivery.

The Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) and Manila Water Corporation (MWC), principal water distributors in Metro Manila and neighboring localities in Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite, have recently petitioned the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for water rates increases of P10.30 and P5.83 per cubic meters, respectively.

 Based on reports we have gathered, CREBA agrees that the spiraling cost of water has made it imperative for the MWSS to “meticulously examine the annual determination of the Return on Rate Base of 12 percent as prescribed by the Public Service Law” of any adjustments in water cost.

Reports assert that since July 30, 2004 after the Commission on Audit submitted the audit of asset used in operation, Manila Water was discovered to have had an actual rate of return of 40.92 percent over and above the 12 percent cap imposed by the Public Service Law. This exposed the fact that there has been no annual audit of assets used in operation and no asset registry in MWSS.

We deem it high time for the MWSS regulators to look for possible irregularities committed in past rate rebasing proceedings as a basis for reforming this system of determining water rates, which was part of the exposes made by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy who called for a congressional inquiry on the issue.

 In her report, Herrera-Dy asked MWSS to disclose the annual audits, status, collection and other data on multi-million peso water improvement projects supposedly being funded by collections of MWSI and MWC from its customers. Among these projects are the Laiban Dam, Wawa Dam, Earthquake Contingency Fund, 15 cubic meter per second Angat Dam Water Irrigation Replacement and several other projects.

The housing sector likewise calls for the implementation of international standards for sewerage and sanitation to justify the high cost of service imposed by MWSI and MWC.

Customers are being billed based on international criteria being applied in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan but sewerage and sanitation services extended by the two water concessionaires are way below the standards set in the said countries.

Metro Manila cities will not achieve international competitiveness in terms of living standards, health and balanced environment as long as effective sewerage and sanitation systems are absent. We urge MWSS to be open to the public in their regulatory governance.

Our organization also volunteers to be “a public participant” in the current rate rebasing exercise of the MWSS as we advocate for transparency in water service delivery. #

Energy within our Reach

Earlier this year, our country’s legislators have acknowledged that the Philippines now holds the infamous record of having the highest residential energy rates not only among its closest Asian neighbours but possibly the entire world.

The skyrocketing cost of electricity that goes beyond the affordability levels of the average Filipino family is one that we can try to consider as another “great social equalizer”, since the rate of electricity affects not only the cost of living of individuals but also the cost of doing business which powers the economy in general.

Data from the Department of Energy reveal that the Philippines has overtaken JAPAN – now the 4th largest economy in the world - in terms of electricity rate for residential use. Congressman Ben Evardone, who initiated an inquiry on the issue through House Resolution No. 106, said that the residential power rate here is 18 US cents per kilowatt-hour, while it is only 17 cents in Japan, 15 in Singapore, 8 in Thailand, 7 in Malaysia, 5 in Indonesia and about a mere 3 cents in Vietnam. Our own research reveals the same, and this we find very alarming.

This makes the cost of electricity in every Filipino household six times more than what families in Vietnam would have to pay, when it is a sad fact that the two nations are the closest and most comparable as far as per capita income and minimum workers’ wages are concerned.

In terms of commercial rates however, it is 14 cents in Singapore, the Philippines comes in second at 12 cents, 12 in Japan, 8 in Thailand, 7 in Malaysia, 6 in Vietnam and 5 cents in Indonesia.

There is no surprise why the general business climate in the Philippines remain unfriendly to potential foreign investors by beating developed countries and large economies like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in terms of power rates.

This is not to mention the corruption, red tape, peace and order and political issues that continue to plague the bureaucracy to the consternation of the local and international business community.

This protracted state of affairs denies the country a huge potential and opportunity to benefit from increased economic activities that will redound to business, employment and fiscal revenues for government. It likewise denies the ordinary businessman with minimum capital the chance for a level playing field that will encourage healthy competition.

To implement a “socialized pricing mechanism for the marginalized end-users,” the ERC has implemented a lifeline rate discount for those who cannot afford to pay at full cost. MERALCO customers with an average monthly consumption of 0-50 kilowatt-hour pay 50% less, those with 51-70 kilowatt-hour average monthly consumptions pay 35% less and those who consume 71-100 kilowatt-hour get 20% discount.

However, these discounts are recovered by charging higher rates for big users, who in turn, input the added costs to be borne by the consumers of their products and services creating a vicious cycle of discounting and back-charging, putting citizens’ spending power in peril.

It behooves the government to review its recent policies that have failed the very intention of the legislative measure enacted more than 10 years ago – which had been reduced from being EPIRA to a mere question of “pera” - and find out means to regulate and stabilize the cost of electricity.

We can begin by learning from our ASEAN neighbours. We must finally be able to redeem ourselves from the debts NAPOCOR has incurred to the tune of several billion dollars. How it ever reached such staggering proportions only government can tell us. But I believe most, if not all of us, taunted by the EPIRA-turned-“pera” solution know the real answer. And maybe, our most able-minded representatives in Congress can consider lifting the 12% VAT on power consumption and finally unleash the Filipinos from the shackles of high-cost electricity. 

E-mail us with your comments at #




  1. Earlier Objectives
  2. Implementation Dsyfunction
  3. Action Undertaken And To Be Undertaken By Consumers And Other Stakeholders
  4. BH Status Observation 
1) The principal objective of the MWSS Privatization is to HARNESS Private Capital in the delivery of water, sewerage and sanitation services , and subject to a certain constitutional limitation, likewise to harness some Foreign Investments. The enabling laws: R. A. 8041, EO 311 and EO 286 as well as the Concession Agreement/s have allowed the entry of Mayniladand Manila Water as MWSS Concessionaires subject to Water Rate Setting Mechanism by MWSS Regulatory Office. To compensate the Concessionaire/s and to make reference to the terms and conditions therewith, Concession Agreements/s were signed by MWSS that established for both Periodic Rate Rebasing System that aims to protect the interests of the Water Consumers and at the same time to effectively compute and allow Maynilad and Manila Water to recover their Capital Expenditures in their rehabilitation, infrastructure developments ,putting in place complete water distribution system as well· as an international standard sewerage and sanitation process and the like, and to include in it its related maintenance and operating expenses thereto that have been proven to be PRUDENTLY INCURRED AND HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO EFFICIENCY TESTS by the Regulatory Office . On these mandates , MWSS authorized the two (2) Concessionaires to put up water meters and to collect from water meter readings RATES ON WATER AND SEWERAGE SERVICES FEES AND OTHER ADD ONS based on a12% RETURN ON RATE BASE (RORB) Determinations as what have been allowed as basis for Water Charging to their customers.

2) It must be emphasized that the NEITHER the Concession Agreement/s NOR those enabling laws created under the Water Crisis Act allowed any of the followingDYSFUNCTIONS that lead into WHY IS OUR WATER RATE SO EXPENSIVE NOWADAYS ???, hitting to a high of 1,750% after the two(2) Water Rate Rebasing Approvals by MWSS in 2003 and in 2008 from a low of Pesos 4.02 per cubic meter in 2002 and now in 2012 to a high of Pesos 48.70 per cubic meter: A) The Concession Agreement/s OR those enabling laws did not allow the CONSUMERS CAPITAL to be harnessed to what MUST supposed to BE the CAPITAL EXPENDITURES of the CONCESSIONAIRES MAYNILAD AND MANILA WATER AS WELL AS THEIR FOREIGN PARTNERS ; B) The Concession Agreement/s and those enabling laws likewise did not allow the MWSS REGULATORS AND ITS BOARD OF TRUSTEES to do INNOVATIONS in WATER RATE SETTING and the subsequent APPROVALS of those WATER RATE SETTING INNOVATIONS respectively , that led to the Concessionaires MAYNILAD AND MANILA WATER being allowed to CHARGE AND COLLECT IN ADVANCE FROM MONTHLY WATER BILLINGS of Water Consumers for Water Infrastructure Projects that are NOT YET BEING DONE, NOT YET BEING ENJOYED BY THE CONSUMERS , NOT HAVING BEEN PRUDENTLY INCURRED,· NOT YET BEING SUBJECTED TO EFFICIENCY TESTING, ASSESSMENTS FOR FUTURE COSTS THAT ARE NOT YET DUE, AND MANY OTHER WATER FEES ADDED ON AND FRONTLOADED TO THE WATER BILLS THAT ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.
3) Actions Being Currently Undertaken by the Concerned Stakeholders:· a). Water For All Refund Movement (WARM) together with individual consumer/s , with the assistance of a socially oriented law office· have filed demand letters to MWSS , Maynilad and Manila Water for the Refund to water consumers· in the amount of· Pesos 6 Billion for the two( 2) immediately identifiable unimplemented projects , laiban dam and 15 CMS Angat Reliability or Water Irrigation Replacement Water· that have been collected in advance· from consumers as added to the monthly water bills for the last 5 years starting 2008.· This is in preparation for filing with the proper court venues for Large Scale Syndicated Estafa vs the responsible officers , board of trustees and directors of MWSS , Maynilad· and Manila Water ;· · b). Water Alliance for Refund and Reform, Inc (WARR) together with Water for All Refund Movement, Inc (WARM)· have sent demand letters to MWSS , Maynilad and Manila Water, for Audit , Full Accounting and Refund· cc: Commission on Audit (COA). This is in preparation for the filing of a Civil Case in behalf of the Water Consumers.· · c ). Bagong Henerasyon Partylist (BH) headed by Congresswoman Bernadette Herrera-Dy , a member of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Water , who initiated the Congressional Investigation , Research , Report of Findings and Recommendation on the MWSS anomalies and Questionable Water Rate Rebasing· have filed officially with the Commission on Audit (COA) its· Referral Letter for Audit And Accounting of Water Rates and its entire Regulatory Rate Setting Mechanism,· and have likewise recently completed its draft official letter to the Office of the Ombudsman ready for filing for its Referral Letter for complete investigation of government officials in MWSS,· in the Regulatory Office, in the Administrative Office and its Board of Trustees,· as well as the officials of the National Water Resources Board for possible collusion that could have led to WHY IS OUR WATER RATE SO EXPENSIVE NOWADAYS ?
4) Bagong Henerasyon (BH)·through Congresswoman Bernadette Herrera-Dy observes that· "The DYSFUNCTIONS in the MWSS that have allowed the water consuming public to be bilked with Unconscionable and Expensive Water Rates could be a classic case of what is wrong in the society, governance, ruling power of the wealthy , fear of politics and the justice system to confront the economic power of the elite whereby the Philippine Government itself ,· its entire bureaucracy ,its legislative function,· its judiciary and the like· are being used at times by the influentials and the very powerfully rich against the interests of the people and sometimes against the State itself without the State knowing it".·