Press "Enter" to skip to content

ROUGH CUTS | This exorbitant surcharge rate

We are again throwing this challenge to Second District Councilor Louie John Bonguyan, the youthful chair of the Davao City Council Committee on Energy and Water. Any other councilors be they chair or member of other council bodies other than Energy and Water, may opt to pick our dare.

We challenge the City Councilors to look into the issue raised by a water consumer which we also supported – the fairness in the imposition of late payment penalty or surcharge or whatever is that add-on payable effective immediately after the water bill payment deadline.

The guy who raised the issue to the Davao City Water District (DCWD) through its information dissemination portal in the social media claimed that the surcharge amounts to almost 10 percent. To validate we referred to our own bills and there our own computation of the surcharge says it is over 9 percent.

The outcome almost jolted us from where we were seated. Wow, for the hundreds of thousands of water consumers even just a mere 30 percent of them who will have the misfortune of being unable to pay by due date, that would surely earn the water firm hundreds of thousands of pesos a month in easy money.
For sure DCWD will have as ready reason for the imposition “to encourage the consumers to pay on time so they can avoid paying the surcharge.” But is it fair to the household consumers who have no way of recovering their additional expenses from whomever?

That was why when we realized the exceptionally high surcharge rate we immediately raised the issue by calling the attention of Councilor Louie John. We, and without doubt thousands of other hard-hit water consumers, feel that the chair of the Council Committee on Energy and Water, should initiate moves that will determine the fairness of the rates for the benefits of the consumers who are their constituents. Apparently, the second district councilor may have not read our column because he may be too busy. We are again raising the same issue. This time however, we are calling all the other members of the local legislative body to do their own initiative and use the result as input for the Energy and Water Committee chair to do the necessary.

May be the Council can ask its research unit, if it has any, to do some inquiries as to who has the province in the determination of the rates of surcharge to be imposed. After all the water agency is not a lending institution, therefore the determination of the rates of surcharges and other penalties and other add-on fees is not under the ambit of the Central Bank. The Council should also look into whether it has the authority to regulate the rates of imposition considering that the DCWD is a semi-government agency established through a charter with the intention to serve the people by providing one of their basic needs.

Say, how come other public utility firms are charging only 2 percent in delayed bill payments? That is what Davao City’s electricity provider is charging. Even Credit Card companies are imposing only 3 percent for delayed payments.

And if it is only the water firm’s Board of Directors that decides on the rate of the surcharge it imposed on delayed bill payments, did the members find the decision not worthy of public consultation or even approval by the Davao City Council? Or, are the members of Davao City’s legislative body negligent of their responsibilities?

Of course we know that when the company decided to increase its water rates over a year back there were some “token” consultations. But somehow it succeeded to get the approval of the Local Water Utilities Board, a national regulatory body, the rates it wanted although on staggered basis.

The representatives of the people from the first, second, and third districts of Davao City, though they called for the appearance of DCWD’s management people in the city’s policy making body, s0omehow failed to produce positive result for the people during those hearings. The outcome was all for the benefit of the water provider.

In other words, the Council “called, they heard, but were conquered” instead by the justifications of the water agency.

Frankly we cannot understand why the members of the local legislative body, and even those in the Executive Department of the city, prefer to be “deaf, blind and mute” on the issue of water rates and now the damning anti-poor rate of surcharge imposed by the DCWD on delayed bill payments.
Can the Councilors, just for once, even show some concerns to the people they are sworn to serve? Who knows they might be able to find means “in aid of their reelection” come May 2025.


Powered By ICTC/DRS