By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) Updated August 14, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Residents of BF Homes subdivision are questioning an order by a Las Piñas judge restraining Maynilad Water Services Inc. from laying water pipelines to end their 20-year-old “drought.”
BF Homes is the largest private subdivision in the country, with some 12,000 homes, cutting across the cities of Parañaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa.
Diana Quiros of the United BF Homeowners Association Inc. (UBFHAI) said subdivision developer BF Homes Inc. (BFHI) has managed to secure a temporary restraining order issued by Judge Raul Bautista Villanueva of the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 274, and they are set to stage a rally tomorrow to air their anger over the TRO.
“We want to send a message to the concerned, particularly the officials of BFHI, to allow Maynilad to address the water supply problem in the city by conducting repair activities. We are just praying for a peaceful rally,” she said.
BFHI is reportedly owned by businessman-sportsman Albert “Bobby” Aguirre, but a check with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday revealed there was no company registered by that name.
Rally participants will converge in several areas, starting at around 7 a.m., before marching to the UBFHAI park on Banzon street.
Bernabe supports rally
Parañaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe said he is supporting the city residents in their fight to have a regular but affordable supply of water in their respective homes.
“We have always helped and supported the long-sought aspiration of the homeowners of BF Homes subdivision to finally resolve the water problem issue in the city. As a matter of fact, we have used our police power to help Maynilad facilitate the supply and delivery of water to subdivision residents,” he said.
He also expressed hope that a concrete solution will come of the protest and indignation rally. “We are with them in spirit and hope that the subdivision developer will see the light and allow Maynilad to provide water supply to their customers,” Bernabe said.
Long-standing water problem
When the subdivision opened sometime in the ’60s, the residents were provided with a continuous supply of potable water operated by BFHI’s subsidiary, Philippine Waterworks and Construction Corp. (PWCC). The regular supply continued until the late ’70s, when its underground water source, deep wells, began to dry up one after the other. By the ’80’s, the water supply was rationed out until only a few households were getting water from the tap.
Two years ago, representatives of the homeowners’ association sought the assistance of Bernabe, who asked help from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, which in turn tapped its western zone concessionaire, Maynilad to initiate talks with BFHI to find a solution to the problem.
Maynilad initially offered to sell water in bulk to BFHI using the water system of PWCC at a viable transfer price that would also be acceptable to the homeowners when re-sold to them by the subsidiary. The talks bogged down after PWCC demanded a lower transfer price and planned to resell the water at a price that would have been much higher than those paid for by residents of subdivisions close to BF Homes. Maynilad rejected the demand.
Bernabe then implemented City Council Resolution 08-054, which authorized him to exercise police power and allow Maynilad to immediately construct a water system in the subdivision and provide the agency police protection and security in undertaking repair activities.
The BFHI responded by securing a TRO from a Las Piñas judge.
“Since the issue is now in the hands of the court, we pray that the legal battle will eventually culminate in a conclusion that will be favorable to both Maynilad and the suffering homeowners,” Bernabe said.