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MANILA, Philippines - Employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System want what they call an upright board of trustees to end alleged fund irregularities by the body.
"We want change for the better," MWSS Human Resources and Records Management Division Manager Laurelynn delos Santos said on the side of the Saturday Forum at Annabel's in Quezon City.
She and fellow employees expressed dismay over alleged fund misuse by the board of trustees, saying members of this body receive more than what they're supposed to legally get.
"Department of Budget and Management set a per diem of PhP 500 per meeting but they're getting paid over 10 times this amount," delos Santos said.
For committee meetings, she said a BOT member gets P8,400 per diem.
"They meet more than once a day, however, so such per diem is multiplied by the number of meetings they had," she noted.
She pointed out per diem should be given on a per day basis only.
The employees also reported BOT members receive gasoline allowance for their private vehicles.
"That shouldn't be done," said delos Santos.
MWSS employees association's Nap Quinones likewise alleged the agency duplicated work of its regular employees by hiring 36 consultants.
"The agency also hired 162 forest workers for Ipo watershed's reforestation -- we're not opposing greening but think the process of hiring them was illegal as their resumes haven't even been submitted to the Human Resources office," he said during the forum.
Delos Santos alleged consultants MWSS hired last October claimed a monthly salary of P50,000 each.
"They also claimed salaries retroactive to March," she noted.
The association's Rene Zapiter likewise raised concern about such hiring, noting MWSS already released payment to its consultants even without Malacanang's approval.
"We're awaiting developments on the complaint we filed before Office of the Ombudsman on June 10 this year regarding MWSS' illegal hiring of consultants," he said.
Delos Santos reported MWSS employees were stripped of several benefits government earlier approved for them, including rice and meal allowances.
"MWSS reduced our meal allowance to P3 -- [we] can hardly buy any food with that amount," she noted.
Employees of MWSS can live with such reality but won't tolerate BOT's fund misuse, she said.
A handwritten report that Water for All Refund Movement (WARM) President Rodolfo Javellana Jr. provided at the forum noted the per diem of MWSS' existing BOT "not only were/are unauthorized, they were paid out of the P6 billion advance collections from consumers."
He maintains MWSS must reimburse such advance payment from customers of its private concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc. since water projects to be funded from that collection didn't push through.
The projects involve Angat Dam irrigation water replacement and construction of Laiban Dam.
"We're asking MWSS to return the advance payments we made -- that's our money," he reiterated during the forum.
Last month, Javellana said WARM continued probing charges levied on the two concessionaires' customers to determine how much more advance payments must be returned to them.