(File photo)

The City Council summoned on Monday officials of the Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD) over a complaint raised in the chamber by Councilor Rolando Amurao concerning what he claimed was a sudden increase in the water bill of the commercial establishment ran by his family.

Amurao said he wanted the agency to explain why their water bill went up steeply during the holidays.

“Medyo nagulantang kami sa pagtaas kasi kaya nag-request kami ng inyong presence dito sa Question Hour to just inform us kung paano ba kino-compute ang rate. Nagulat ako kasi ang manager po noon ay ‘yong anak ko. Nagulat siya at ang sabi niya, ‘Pa, bakit ito fifty percent iyong itinaas ng ating water bill?” Amurao said.

Amurao said his family operates a small satellite market in Barangay San Miguel that rents out stalls for dry and wet market goods.

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He said their water bill in December doubled to P4,800 from the previous month and, for the month of January, increased to P10,000 including the penalty for late payment.

“Noong November bill, parang P2,400 ‘yong binayaran namin. Noong December naging P4,800. ‘Yan lang may penalty kasi nga po hindi binayaran noong anak ko dahil gusto naming i-check. At dahil sa busy-busy na, napabayaan din, hindi nabayaran, nagkaroon siya ng penalty. Pagdating ng bill ng January, nagpatong na at inabot ng P10,000. So ‘yon lang po, nagulat kami at bakit more than fifty percent ‘yong itinaas ng aming water bill,” Amurao said.

PPCWD department managers Leticia Delos Reyes of the Customer Accounts Division and Magdalena Espiritu of the Commercial Services Department explained that the increase in Amurao’s water billing was because his family’s business establishment was reclassified from residential to commercial connection.

“Yung kanyang connection kasi na-re-classify from residential to commercial rate which is times two ang rate,” said Espiritu.

Delos Reyes explained their existing water rates and policies are based on the Local Water Utility Works Administration (LWUA).

At present, she said the PPCWD charges a minimum of P280 for the first 10 cubic meters, P29.90 for the succeeding same number of cubic meters, P32.70 for each cubic meter within 21 to 30 cubic meters of water consumed, P36.40 for each cubic meter within 31 to 40 cubic meters, and P41.10 extra charge for 41 cubic meters and above.

Delos Reyes said the reclassification of the Amuraos’ water connection in their “wet market or talipapa” caused their bill to increase.

The rate for commercial connection, she said, is minimum P560 for the first 10 cubic meters of water consumed. Additional charges after the minimum are times two of the residential rate.

Amurao explained his business property leases stalls to several people who sell goods and other products. He said he only collects P100 from them as a water bill share.

“Papaano ma’am ang sa akin, ang akin ay leasing? Leasing lang ‘yon, so ang gamit po ng tubig, ay panghugas lang din, panligo ng mga nagli-lease doon. Katulad ko ang na-consume ko ay 68 cubic meters, magkano po ang magiging ano diyan? Ang laki, kaya po nagulat kami. Wala pong metro ‘yong mga nagre-rent doon, sinisingil lang [namin] sila ng P100 per month,” Amurao said.

Espiritu said to Amurao that the problem will only be resolved if the leasees will apply to the PPCWD for their own water meters.

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