By NITZ ARANCON
THREE councilors yesterday accused Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. and Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp. of attempting to set up a cartel even as they brought their complaint to a little known independent quasi-judicial body through the Presidential Management Staff.
In a four-page complaint, councilors Teodulfo Lao Jr., Enrico Salcedo and Reuben Daba alleged that the companies were colluding in an attempt to raise the water rates in the city.
“What cannot be denied is the collusion between Metropac Water Investments Corp. and Rio Verde to jack up the water rate and restrict the competition,” reads part of the complaint.
Assisted by their lawyer, James Judith, the councilors submitted the complaint, intended for the Philippine Competition Commission, through the office of the PMS in Barangay Carmen.
The new Commission is an independent quasi-judicial body that was created to ensure fair competition for the benefit of consumers and businesses.
The complaint was received by Nawi Maamor, a PMS officer, at around 11:25 am.
Maamor said the complaint would reach Malacañang and the Commission’s chairman, Arsenio Balicasan.
In their complaint, Lao, Salcedo and Daba asked the PCC to start a motu proprio investigation into the Cagayan de Oro Water District’s joint venture agreement with the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific.
They also asked the Commission to look into the supposed “operation and management contract” between Metro Pacific and Rio Verde.
Judith said these are within the powers and jurisdiction of PCC based on Republic Act 10667, otherwise known as the Philippine Competition Act.
Judith alleged that there were indications that Rio Verde and Metro Pacific were into cartelization.
He said, “There is the apparent cartelization of local water industry between the two companies (Metropac and Rio Verde) with the purpose of maintaining the desired water rates to their advantage at the rate of P16.35 per cubic meter…”
Judith pointed out that P16.35 is higher than the present rate of P10.45 per cubic meter that was disallowed by the Commission on Audit.
He said there was also an apparent attempt to restrict competition.