By Charlie V. Manalo
08/27/2009 [ tribune.net.ph ]
The developers of the country’s largest residential enclave yesterday denounced the Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) for invading its property after the water distributor started laying pipelines inside its subdivision without the benefit of just compensation for the developer.
At a hearing conducted by the House committee on housing and human settlement, BF Homes Inc. (BFHI) through its president Carmelo Mendoza and the firm’s water distribution arm, the Philippine Waterworks and Construction Corp. (PWCC) through its general manager Fernando Javier, presented a position paper asserting that they "are well within their rights to stop the invasion of their properties" in Parañaque City.
BFHI and PWCC were the original suppliers of water for BF Homes in Parañaque, the country’s largest private residential area having been granted a certificate of public convenience (CPC) in 1983.
BFHI and PWCC alleged that MWSI, in connivance with the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), started excavating the roads within the premises of BF Homes for purposes of laying water pipelines on March 13 this year even if it has yet to secure permit from the developer.
This was after MWSI reportedly reneged on its earlier agreement to sell bulk water to PWCC.
BFHI and PWCC said as private owners they "have an established right to protect their property."
"The road lots inside the subdivision BF Homes Parañaque are still private in nature as there is yet no donation made in favor of the local government or any homeowners association. Being private roads, no exaction or any construction works may be made therein without the written permit from the developer or owner," BFHI stressed.
The developer insisted EO 688 constitutes taking within the purview of the provisions of the Constitution on expropriation, saying "no provision was made for the owners of the water supply facilities to be notified and given opportunity to air their side."
In the case of the takeover of BFHI-PWCC’s property, the developer pointed out the law requires that "property taken must be for public purpose and necessity."
"Public interest is merely being used as a shield or cloak for the true intent of PD 1345 and EO 688 which is to serve the concessionaires of MWSS. The profit to be gained is very substantial considering that the business of providing water supplies within the subdivisions is virtually lodged under their monopoly."
PWCC had been subsidizing the cost of water sold to it by MWSI and MWSS coursed through its distribution facilities since the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has pegged its rate at P13 per cubic meter of water while MWSS-MWSI charged P28 per cubic meter of water it sold to BFHI-PWCC.
"It should be noted that PWCC and BFHI invested water reticulation systems through the construction of deep wells and installation of pipes, pumps and pumping stations, including all facilities, equipment, supplies and more importantly the appropriation of parcels of land where these facilities lie," the developers said in their position paper.
These represent millions of pesos in capital and titled properties, the ownership of all of which is protected by the Constitution, adding that PD 1345 confiscates without the payment of just compensation, they said.
The developers also lamented that some politicians, particularly Vice President Noli de Castro and Parañaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe, appeared to be using this water issue "for upsteam political capital" with the forthcoming 2010 elections when this matter can be settled within the soonest possible time, with the duly designated government agencies.
BFHI and PWCC also expressed concern over the implication of the intent of Congress to summon the judges handling these controversies, saying "it can influence whatever the courts may render."
"This is precisely the reason for the policy on the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution," the developers said.
"Maynilad (MWSI) negotiated with BFHI and PWCC only for the sole purpose of bringing in their supply lines under the guise of selling water in bulk when in truth and in fact they have already plotted to directly supply homeowners’ associations without any regard to the rights of BFHI and PWCC," the developers lamented.