Gov’t panel, Manila Water complete discussions on ‘better’ deal

Gov’t panel, Manila Water complete discussions on ‘better’ deal

MANILA – A revised agreement between the government and concessionaire Manila Water is expected to be signed within the month, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

Discussions were completed Wednesday “on a new and better water concession agreement,” Guevarra told newsmen.

The government panel is composed of the Office of the President, Department of Finance, DOJ, Office of the Solicitor General, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, and Vince Dizon, who is the Presidential Adviser on Flagship Programs and Projects and president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

Discussions with Maynilad will follow.

An initial review by the DOJ showed the water contracts were “onerous and disadvantageous to the people, relative to the terms or periods, government non-interference, as well as concessionaire indemnification for losses”.

The Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration issued separate rulings in 2019, ordering the Philippine government to pay PHP3.4 billion and PHP7.39 billion to Maynilad and Manila Water, respectively, for their supposed losses and damages.

Both companies did not pursue their claims.

Another onerous provision is the extension of the contracts to 2037, considering that the extension was granted 12 years before the original expiration of the 25-year concession agreements in 2022.

In March 2019 when water service interruptions hit Metro Manila and nearby areas, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to fire Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System officials and revoke the contracts with Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) and Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Mr. Duterte directed the DOJ in November last year to discuss with the two water concessionaires the proposed revisions of their existing contracts.

MWCI and Maynilad Water Services Inc. get their water supply from Angat Dam for delivery customers in service areas that include Metro Manila and parts of Cavite and Rizal provinces.

MWCI is a joint venture led by the Ayala Corporation. Its franchise area includes Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Makati, and parts of Quezon City and Manila.

It also services Antipolo City and the Rizal towns of Angono, Baras, Binagonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jala-Jala, Morong, Pililla, Rodriquez, Tanay, Taytay, and San Mateo.

Maynilad on the other hand was originally a partnership between Benpres and Lyonnaise des Eaux of France. In 2006, they pre-terminated their contract.

D.M. Consunji Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation then won the bid for 84 percent of Maynilad shares and the unexpired term of the Lopez group.

Maynilad manages and operates water and waste-water services in the cities of Manila, Pasay, Parañaque, Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Valenzuela, and parts of Makati and Quezon City, as well as Navotas and Malabon. Its franchise area also covers Cavite City, and the municipalities of Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario. (PNA)

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