MANILA – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said two water concessionaires agreed to officially waive their arbitral award and terminate all related proceedings against the Philippine government under their earlier deals.
In a message to newsmen, Guevarra also said “the MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) and Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) are ready to sign their revised water concession agreement today (Tuesday)”.
“Like the other concessionaire, Manila Water Co. Inc. (MWCI), “Maynilad will also sign an official waiver of its arbitral award to terminate all related proceedings,” he added.
The revised concession agreement between the MWSS and Maynilad contains essentially the same terms as those in the recently signed deal between the MWSS and Manila Water company, Guevarra said.
Onerous provisions, like the non-interference clause and charging corporate income tax to consumers, “have been removed (with) contingent liabilities of the government substantially reduced and a framework for better service to the public has been put in place,” he said.
Manila Water and Maynilad have also agreed to a tariff freeze until Dec. 31, 2022.
The revised agreement between the government and MWCI signed in March became the basis for the contract with Maynilad.
The arbitral award referred to the order of the Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2019 for the Philippine government to pay PHP3.4 billion and PHP7.39 billion to Maynilad and MWCI, respectively, for supposed losses and damages.
Both companies did not pursue their claims.
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.
When water service interruptions hit Metro Manila and nearby areas in March 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to fire MWSS officials and revoke the contracts with MWCI and Maynilad.
The President directed the DOJ in November last year to discuss with the two water concessionaires the proposed revisions of their contracts. (PNA)