Party-list group Bayan Muna on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to partially reconsider its December 2021 decision which barred water consumers from demanding a refund for the income tax collected from them by Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company, Inc.
This was despite an SC ruling that the two water firms are public utilities, and thus cannot recover their corporate income taxes as operating expenses from consumers.
In its partial motion for reconsideration, Bayan Muna, through its counsel Maria Cristina Yambot, also asked the Court to direct the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to account all corporate income taxes of Manila Water and Maynila it allowed to be included in applicable water rates from 2022 to 2012.
The petitioner said the water utilities should be compelled to refund the “illegally” passed on corporate income taxes to their respective water consumers.
While the High Court earlier ruled that water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad are public utilities, it denied the plea of Bayan Muna for the release of the refund, noting that the right to refund had already long prescribed due to the failure of any party to contest the water rates before the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) within the prescribed period of 30 days after the effectivity of such rates.
“We hope that the Supreme Court will complete the momentous landmark decision by giving relief to millions of consumers who are suffering from extreme hardships due to inflation, low wages and unemployment. We were previously forced to pay these corporate income taxes despite our continuing protest, and it is but right that we will be granted a refund because of the people’s victory in the Supreme Court. The refund could amount to tens of billions that could help pay months of water consumption by consumers,” the group said in its petition.