By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
“Take it or leave it.”
This was Senator Christopher Go’s unsolicited advice to the Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services Inc. Tuesday after President Duterte reportedly threatened to nationalize water services should they refuse the government’s terms under the new water concession contracts.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have presented to Duterte the new concession agreements that do not contain provisions that would be disadvantageous to the government.
“Binibigyan na sila ng pagkakataon ng Pangulo na ayusin ito sa pamamagitan ng bagong kontrata na walang mga onerous provisions (The President is now giving them the chance to correct their mistakes through the new contracts that do not have onerous provisions),” Go said in his statement.
“Take it or leave it. That’s my advice to Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services,” he added.
Senator Imee Marcos also urged the two Metro Manila water concessionaires to accept the new contracts.
“I urge water concessionaires to study and accept the new contract of PRRD. It is the Filipino people’s human right to have reliable, affordable water. Any commercial interests can only be secondary to that right,” she said in a text message.
Go, however, said the release of the new water contracts should not stop the government from seeking accountability from those involved in the crafting of the onerous water deals. Panelo assured in his briefing earlier that the new contracts would not guarantee that those responsible will not be prosecuted.
“Even if they accept the new contracts, as a senator who also considers access to clean water as a public health issue, nothing should prevent the government from determining and bringing to justice those responsible for acts against the best interests of the Filipino people,” the former presidential assistant said.
“A new water concession agreement should not erase whatever their accountability was in the past. The people have suffered too long – not having water and paying higher rates,” he added.
Go further maintained that “It is government’s responsibility to always safeguard and promote the welfare of our people.”