By Ben Rosario
Buhay Partylist Representative Lito Atienza Wednesday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for initiating moves to probe the alleged onerous provisions of concession agreements between the government and the two Metro Manila water concessionaires – Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.
Atienza said Duterte’s statement threatening to file charges of economic sabotage against the two private water concessionaires is a welcome development for the millions of water users in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
“Again, he has proven that he has the political will to stand up to these oligarchs and free the Filipino people from their clutches,” Atienza said in a statement.
The former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said a close examination of the contracts has become necessary as allegations of corruption have been aired by concerned quarters.
“Where have you seen a business contract where the concessionaires cannot lose and always end up making hundreds of billions of pesos at the expense of the people? Any business contract can make money for the principal or you can lose money at the same time,” Atienza noted.
Atienza said President Duterte reacted correctly when news came out about the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in Singapore.
The PCA awarded Manila Water at least P7.4 billion as it penalized the Philippine government for rejecting petitions for rate increases that the water firm sought.
Senior Asst. Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said this development necessitates a congressional inquiry into the concession agreement that the government entered into with the Ayala-led Manila Water.
Prior to the release of the PWC decision, the Philippine Supreme Court slapped Manila Water and Maynilad with P1.84 billion in fines for violating the country’s environmental laws.
Both Atienza and Zarate said the High Court should immediately demand the water companies’ compliance to its ruling.
On the other hand, Atienza urged the government to appeal the PWC decision.
“We have been pointing out anomalies in the concession agreements between the government and these two giant corporations for more than a decade now,” said Atienza.
“These water companies should be made accountable for their inadequate service,” he added.