By Madelain B. Miraflor
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release the amended version of the agency’s separate concession deals with Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc.
MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat said that the review of the concession agreements – which were described by President Rodrigo Duterte as onerous – is already done and that the government is now coming up with their amended version.
“We are waiting for the draft contract from the DOJ,” Salamat told Business Bulletin. “I’m asking the DOJ if they can release it sooner than expected.”
Supposedly, the DOJ and MWSS, together with its concessionaires, are now in re-negotiation stage when it comes to incorporating changes on the provisions of the contracts.
Several times last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has showered MWSS and its concessionaires with verbal onslaught as they failed to quench Metro Manila’s thirst during a series of water interruption schedule.
His worst outbursts came as Manila Water announced that it had won an arbitration case it filed against the Philippine government before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), prompting the national government to intervene and order an audit of the contracts and come up with amended set of provisions for them.
To be specific, the international court has ordered the Philippine government to pay the Ayala-led company nearly ₱7.4 billion for preventing the implementation of its water rate hikes a few years ago.
This infuriated Duterte, who accused Manila Water and Maynilad of “economic sabotage” and calling out its respective owners for “screwing” the Filipino people for staging a water crisis to jack up rates.
Manila Water is owned by the Ayala Group, while Maynilad is a joint venture between Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and DMCI Holdings, Inc. (DMCI) of the Consuji family.
Salamat said the immediate release of the amended concession contracts will help the agency better manage Metro Manila’s water sources.
“It should be released this year otherwise we will find it hard to implement our water projects,” Salamat said, adding that the delay in the release of the amended concession agreements because it will dictate Manila Water and Maynilad’s cash flow commitments.