Owners of illegal taps get last chance

By Tarra Quismundo

GO LEGAL or go to jail.

The warning goes out to Tondo, Manila, residents if they are found to have illegal water connections.

Philip Rosete, Maynilad Water Services Inc. area manager, said people discovered to have unauthorized water lines would be given 24 hours to have their connections legitimized.

Beyond that, Rosete added, their water supply would be cut off and they could face criminal prosecution.

According to the Water Crisis Act of 1995, homeowners who use illegal water connections face stiff fines or six months imprisonment.

Rosete, however, explained that people who had illegally tapped into Maynilad's pipes would not be rushed to pay the required fees.

The 24-hour deadline would be for "expressing their intent" to legalize their connection after the illegal tap had been discovered.

The owner of the illegal water line will then be given a week to pay the 500-peso application fee and up to one year to pay the 5,171-peso installation fee.

Since the Maynilad began repairing the water system in Tondo, particularly in the areas hit by an outbreak of gastroenteritis, 192 leaks have been repaired.

Of this number, 51 were identified as "outright illegal" connections.

Manila Mayor Joselito Atienza Jr. said in a press briefing with Maynilad and Department of Health (DoH) officials, that City Hall would strictly enforce the law on illegal water connections.

Atienza said he has ordered barangay (village) officials to report illegal connections to the Maynilad and assist the water firm in implementing the law.

Much of the blame for the recent gastroenteritis outbreak has been put on the damage caused by unauthorized water taps to the water system.

During the same briefing, Maynilad president Rafael Alunan III said efforts to stop further contamination were continuing.

Alunan said Maynilad would be spending around 200 million pesos this year to repair leaks, disconnect illegal connections, and lay down new pipes.

The water firm, the Manila City Health Department and the DoH have started parallel investigations on the causes of the Oct. 23 to Nov. 2 outbreak.

Alunan said every citizen should be mindful of his duty and responsibility to protect the water system to prevent a system breakdown.

This developed as Senator Manny Villar called on the government to punish negligent officials found responsible for the outbreak in Tondo.

The senator also urged the inspection of the quality of water being sold in water refilling stations after one such business was found selling tainted water.

06/11/2003

Bron : Inq7.net

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