By Ralph Villanueva/Manila Times
President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to fire officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for failing to prevent a water shortage in parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province, saying there were more qualified people to do their jobs.
Speaking at the campaign rally of the ruling PDP-Laban party in Tuguegarao City on Tuesday night, Duterte hinted at firing officials in the government because of corruption.
He then shifted to the MWSS, saying the water agency knew the El Nino dry spell was coming, but did not prepare for it.
“The MWSS. You know that is… seasonal. It comes with regularity, El Nino. You have been there for several years and you do not prepare for it? And when it comes, the people have no water,” he said.
The board of MWSS is headed by Franklin Demonteverde, a retired Negros Occidental judge, and its administrator is a retired police general, Reynaldo Velasco.
Other members of the MWSS board are Jose Hernandez, Valeriano Pasquil, Merly Cruz, Melanie Sia-Lambino, Mariano Alegarbes and Melchior Acosta Jr.
Duterte again noted that a day after scolding MWSS officials and executives of the agency’s two water concessionaires, Manila Water Company Inc and Maynilad Water Services Inc, on March 19, water supply was back. “The afternoon, there was already water. You see? Why do you have to cause problem for the people when there are things that you can do at once… It just means, you derail everything in life. They cannot drink, they cannot…. Foolishness,” he said.
The president said he had no patience for people sleeping on their jobs, saying they “either hack it or not.”
“You know, there are a lot of Filipinos here, engineers outside that are skilled but are not known. There are millions of Filipinos waiting outside, brighter than you (smarter),” he said.
“But, they are not well-known because they are not politicians. I will not hesitate to replace you all,” he added.
Last month, Malacanang said a visibly irked Duterte threatened to fire officials of MWSS and end the contracts of its concessionaires during a 40-minute meeting, if the water shortage was not addressed.
Duterte had directed the MWSS to demand from Manila Water, Maynilad and other responsible offices to release water good for 150 days from the Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main water source.
On Tuesday, the Chief Operating Officer of Manila Water Geodino Carpio stepped down following last month’s water shortage that hit about 1.2mn households in Metro Manila and Rizal province.
Manila Water came under fire as customers — from low-income families to commercial and industrial establishments — suffered major inconvenience because of an unprecedented water shortage that started on March 6 with the implementation of a scheduled water service interruption scheme to refill 28 reservoirs.
The utility has an allocation of 1,600mn litres per day (MLD) from Angat Dam. However, the company was forced to tap its reserves from La Mesa Dam to make up for a supply deficit, as demand increased to about 1,750 MLD over the previous weeks.
The listed water utility declared a one-time bill relief for its customers.
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