The Senate has approved on third and final reading the bills that would allow Metro Manila water concessionaires Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services Inc. to operate for 25 more years.
Voting 23-0-0, senators on Monday, Sept. 27, passed House Bills No. 9422 and 9423, which renews the legislative franchise granted to Maynilad and Manila Water, respectively.
If signed into law, Maynilad will be able to continue servicing the west zone of Metro Manila and the province of Cavite, while Manila Water will continue servicing the east zone of Metro Manila and the province of Rizal.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate public service committee and sponsor of the bills in the Senate, said the renewal of the congressional franchise would ensure the people’s access to safe water and improved services especially during the pandemic.
“We are for the continuity of water services and we have continuously reiterated to our concessionaires our expectation for a better water provider in the new normal,” she said in sponsoring the House bills last Sept. 14.
The Senate amended the House bills to mandate the water concessionaires to “comply with all its obligations as provided under this franchise, pertinent laws and regulations, including Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997…relevant jurisprudence and the concession agreement.”
The firms will also be required to establish mechanisms that will facilitate consultation with stakeholders on their services.
In setting and charging fees, Manila Water and Maynilad shall also consider “efficient and prudent” costs of providing service, the methodologies provided in the concession agreement, and their compliance with their obligations.
They will be mandated to submit an annual report to Congress, and failure to do so would result in an increased fine of P1 million for each working day of noncompliance.
The two water firms were granted concession agreements in 1997 for the delivery of water and sewerage services in their jurisdications.
Last March 31 and May 18, Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively, signed a Revised Concession Agreement with the government, which removes the contentious provisions found in the previous contracts and included provisions beneficial to the consumers.
Poe said the concessionaires are also required to provide alternative water supply to their customers in case of service interruption.
“We recognize that the grant of franchise is just part of a bigger solution to the water problems in the country, and that there is still a need to tap and develop new water sources, improve water supply, distribution and sewerage systems, and further educate people on water conservation and climate change,” she said.