MANILA — A party-list lawmaker on Friday said the 18th Congress and the Duterte administration would apply the full force of criminal, civil, and administrative laws against water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera made the statement following the two companies’ warnings of raising water rates in case the government revokes the extension of their concession agreements.
“Manila Water’s and Maynilad’s scare tactics of higher water rates will not work. Never again, because incoming concessionaires can always pay off whatever claims of the old concessionaires as long as appropriate auditing procedures are done so that the consumers will be protected,” said Herrera.
Herrera said the Philippine Competition Commission and the Department of Justice should closely watch and even “anticipate your manipulations and machinations.”
She said Congress could help in creating a competitive environment necessary for new investors to come in the water services sector, particularly in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.
“The Philippine economy is much stronger now than when you entered into those service contracts in the late 90s. I believe the concession areas in the Greater Manila Area have grown much and can be divided into at least four and still be large enough to be profitable,” she said.
She proposed that the concession areas can be split into four ways–the North, South, East, and West zones.
“To make future operations profitable, the sewerage and water treatment aspects of water services can be spun off and opened up to more investors,” she said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo slammed the two companies for recanting their earlier pledge to President Rodrigo Duterte to defer the implementation of their approved increase in water rates in January 2020.
Next month, Maynilad is scheduled to increase water rates by PHP1.95 per cubic meter, while Manila Water is slated to raise its base tariff by PHP2 per cubic meter, as part of phased adjustments for the fourth rebasing period.
Panelo said Manila Water and Maynilad apparently do not care about the plight of water consumers.
“We note that the two Metro Manila water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, have threatened to increase the water rates by 100 percent, following the decision of the MWSS revoking the extension of their concession agreements,” he said.
Manila Water and Maynilad wrote separate letters to Duterte on December 10, expressing their willingness to make amends following threats of facing charges of economic sabotage and even expropriation from the President.
“We recall that they offered not to implement the approved new water rates, among others, after the President publicly denounced the onerous provisions of the said contracts. 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. Filane Mikee Cervantes / PNA – northboundasia.com