Editorial & Opinion

EDITORIAL: Deafening silence at the Palace

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It is truly ironic that one of the first acts of President Benigno S. Aquino III in office was to denounce the greed of top executives at the state-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

 

In his first State-of-the-Nation Address in 2010, Mr. Aquino excoriated the MWSS officials for granting themselves hefty salaries and bonuses that cost taxpayers P211.5 million a year, 76 percent of which was in the form of add-on allowances and benefits.

“The average worker receives up to 13th month pay plus a cash gift. In the MWSS, they receive the equivalent of over 30 months pay if you include all their additional bonuses and allowances,” an outraged Mr. Aquino said.

What is truly outrageous, however, is that today, three years later, Mr. Aquino has chosen to remain silent on the way two private concessionaires of the MWSS, Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Systems, have fleeced the public of P15 billion in the five years since 2008, by passing on their income taxes and all sorts of operating expenses to consumers by way of inflated water rates.

This is avarice that far and away dwarfs the undeserved bonuses that Mr. Aquino complained about in 2010, yet he has not said a meaningful word to right what is unequivocally a glaring injustice.

The math is as simple as the contrast is stark. Mr. Aquino raised a stink three years ago over practices that cost taxpayers P211.5 million a year, but has chosen to remain silent today over a scam that has already cost consumers P3 billion a year.

And the cost to consumers will be even higher, if the two private concessionaires get MWSS approval to raise their already inflated water rates.

When confronted with what has been described as “grossly unjust and immoral” pass-on charges, Mr. Aquino’s spokesman could only offer a lame suggestion that it would be premature to comment on the issue before the MWSS had made up its mind about the higher rates the concessionaires want to charge.

How can we explain the contrast between Mr. Aquino’s outrage in 2010 and his silence in 2013?

Do the private concessionaires live in a corporate Nirvana blessed by the powers that be that exempt them not only from income taxes but also rules that normally regulate public utilities?

Do we really need to wait for the MWSS to decide before denouncing a glaring injustice?

Speak up please, Mr. President. We can’t hear you.

The Filipino Express

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