By Genalyn Kabiling
The two Metro Manila water concessionaires can do their worst but President Duterte will not be swayed into accepting a compromise, Malacañang said Friday amid reports of a possible water rate hike.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President is committed to enforce the law in dealing with alleged irregular water concession contracts, adding that “all legal options are open” to Duterte.
“These concessionaires can do their worst and continue with fleecing the consumers while the President will do his best in serving and protecting the interest of the people,” Panelo said in a statement Friday.
Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynila Water Services Inc. have reportedly threatened to raise their water rates by 100 percent after the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) revoked the extension of their concession agreements. The water concession contracts, sealed in 1997, were originally set to expire in 2022. They were extended during the Arroyo administration until 2037.
Panelo said the two water companies, in letters sent by their top executives, have actually offered “not to implement the approved new water rates, among others,” after the President denounced the alleged onerous provisions of the contracts.
The letters also included the companies’ offer to renegotiate the alleged irregular provisions of the contracts.
Panelo, however, said the President was still studying whether or not to accept the offer.
“There has been no acceptance by the President of their offer nor has he declined it. The subject is still under review by the President,” he said.
“The concessionaires are put on notice that the Chief Executive will not renege from his constitutional duty of enforcing the law. Neither will he be swayed nor enticed into accepting a compromise. Dura lex sed lex,” he said.
He noted that the President, a lawyer and a public prosecutor, is knowledgeable on the provisions of the anti-graft law. “An examination of the latter reveals that the contracts are on all fours with it. Stated differently, the agreements violate every prohibited act of the law,” he added.