A ranking lawmaker at the House of Representatives proposed to declare water and electricity concessionaires as public utilities to address the perennial problem on poor service, such as lack of potable water and persistent brownouts.
In a statement, House deputy majority leader Bernadette Herrera said she limited the definition of public utility to only the distribution and distribution components of electricity and water systems in her proposed Public Utilities Act, which seeks to amend the 83-year-old Commonwealth Act No. 146.
Herrera noted that the most essential utilities are electricity and water, which should be under the “tightest of regulations.”
The present law defines public utility to include telecommunications and other crucial public services.
“Kapag naisabatas ito, magkakaroon na ng basehan ang Commission on Audit na suriin ang lahat na electricity at water service concessionaires sa buong bansa (If this is enacted into law, the Commission on Audit to review all electricity and water service concessionaires all over the country),” she said.
“With my proposed Public Utilities Act, automatic na ang mga water at electricity services concessionaires ay magiging public utilities na (water and electricity services concessionaires would automatically become public utilities),” she added.
Herrera said when a government agency, which is engaged in the operation of a public utility, awards a concession, the concessionaire is likewise deemed to be engaged in the operation of a public utility.
“Congress is now cleaning up the messy situation at MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) and among the areas we have focused on is declaring the water concessionaires as public utilities,” she said.
“Our constituents have had enough of the continuing lack of potable water and the persistent brownouts. The voters made us well aware of these issues and part of the mandate they gave us last elections of May 13 is to solve these problems for good,” she added.
The lawmaker said the decades-old law has limited not just business growth but the quality and efficiency of services to the public.
She noted that the main idea of the bill is to make the trade and investment environment more open and competitive.
“Reducing market entry barriers is a major step towards this direction. Amending the public service could lead to enhanced market competition,” Herrera said. (PNA)
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