Taas-presyo na naman! CA affirms Maynilad can enforce water rate hike
Consumers from Caloocan City to Cavite should brace for a spike in water rates, as the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the enforcement of the arbitral award allowing Maynilad Water Services, Inc. for a 13.41% rebasing adjustment.
In a recent 12-page decision, the CA 2nd Division denied the petition of water regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) against the enforcement of December 29, 2014 award issued by the arbitration panel of the International Chamber of Commerce.
The CA did not even take a year before deciding to sustain the August 30, 2017 decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 93 to confirm the award.
The appeals court pointed out that MWSS id not seek to vacate the arbitral award, which meant the judiciary would be required to confirm it.
“It must be noted that We have deliberately refrained from passing upon the merits of the Arbitral Award — not because the award was erroneous — but because it would be improper,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Jane Aurora Lantion.
“None of the grounds to vacate the Arbitral Award are present in this case and as already established, the merits of the award cannot be reviewed by the courts,” it added.
The 13.41% rebasing adjustment for the fourth rebasing period covering January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2017 arose from Maynilad’s plea to pass on to consumers its corporate income tax liabilities.
MWSS’s denial of the proposed water rate hike prompted the two parties to go to arbitration.
Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez said “[t]his decision reinvigorates investor confidence in the public-private partnership program of the Government, and strengthens confidence in the mechanisms for enforcement of arbitral awards.”
The left-wing Bayan Muna Party-list has a pending Supreme Court petition seeking to nullify arbitration clauses that allowed the concessionaires to initiate such proceedings against the government.