Gov’t to welcome new water players if new contract is declined by Maynilad, Manila Water

Published January 8, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte is not closing his doors to new water concessionaires should Maynilad and Manila Water reject the new contract penned by the government, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

In an interview with CNN Philippines Tuesday evening, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte may allow the entry of other private companies to distribute water in Metro Manila if they present better terms to the government.

“Kung may papasok na new players at maganda ang kanilang (If there will be new players coming and they have good)–they have the capacity to do the kind of service the people deserve, plus maganda yung terms, okay siguro kay Presidente (the terms are good, then perhaps the President will welcome it),” he said.

While no private company has expressed willingness to be Metro Manila’s new water distributor so far, Panelo said they will still have to bid for it. He added that the entry of a new water player was unlikely since Maynilad and Manila Water already expressed that they will cooperate with the government.

“They have to bid. Siguro matagal pa yun (But I think it won’t happen soon),” he said.

“In the foreseeable future, sila uli pero bagong kontrata (it would still be Maynilad and Manila Water but with new contracts) and without any guarantee of immunity from suit because many crimes have been committed,” he added.

“But right now mukhang nakiktia ko walang problema (I don’t think there’s a problem) since they said they are going to cooperate. Dapat lang naman (And they should). They have raked in billions of pesos in profits for the last so many years,” he continued.

President Duterte gave an ultimatum to water companies in Metro Manila to sign a new distribution agreement or risk a government takeover of their businesses. He told reporters in Malacañang Tuesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) were working on the draft of the new deals for Maynilad and Manila Water.

“I have this draft, it’s either you accept it or not. You do not accept it? Then there is no contract. For after all, as I have said right at the beginning when I saw the contract, I said this document is null and void from the beginning because it has so many provisions that would infringe into the penal laws of the Philippines, particularly the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.” Duterte said.

Panelo had earlier said that the new deal will replace what Duterte called the “onerous agreements” between the two firms and the previous administrations. He added that the OSG and the DOJ presented the new contracts during the recent Cabinet meeting.

The issue on the water concessionaires stemmed from the water crisis that struck Metro Manila and other areas in March last year. By October, Duterte warned that he would take over the two water companies.

Gov’t takeover

Panelo said that the current personnel of Manila Water and Maynilad could be hired by the government so they can run the operations in case of a takeover.

“Assuming na hindi nila tatanggapin, yung mga dating nag-o-operate pwede naman sila doon, eh. Pwede naman silang doon na rin, sila na mag-operate (Assuming that the two companies would reject the new contract, their former personnel can takeover),” he said.

“May personnel sila, mga highly-skilled technician. Sila na. Yung mga dating nandoon I’m sure gusto nila yun (They have their own personnel, highly-skilled technicians. It’s going to be their duty to run the operations. Those who are there already, I’m sure they would want that),” he added.