SC asked to void MWSS deals with Maynilad, Manila Water

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2014 07:38 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2014 03:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Abakada Party-List group urged the Supreme Court (SC) to void the two concession agreements entered into by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) with Maynilad Water Systems, Inc. and Manila Water Company, Inc., both inked in 1997, for being unconstitutional.

In a petition filed on Wednesday, Abakada said the MWSS committed grave abuse of discretion and usurpation of legislative prerogative when it entered into the agreements, both dated February 21, 1997, minus an act of Congress, and in "contracting away to Manila Water and Maynilad its governmental functions delegated by the Congress."

Various inherent functions and powers of the State were granted to the concessionaires, one of which is the power to adjust standard rates for water and sewerage services automatically, Abakada claimed.

Abakada stressed that what Congress has delegated to the MWSS, the MWSS can no longer delegate to any entity.

"The delegation by the MWSS to the concessionaires of the governmental power of supplying water and sewerage services, rate fixing, and eminent domain, which were delegated to it by the Legislature in the MWSS Charter is in violation of the doctrine of potestasdelegada non potestdelegare, which means 'what has been delegated cannot be delegated'."

"This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another," the petition read.

Abakada further said that there is no showing that Congress had directly provided Manila Water and Maynilad legislative franchises to allow them to perform governmental functions.

The concession agreements also led to the exclusion of Manila Water and Maynilad from regulations governing public utilities when both are, in fact, public utilities, according to the group.

Abakada also hit the extension of the agreements "long before the expiration date and at a time when respondents were in a state of material default."

The agreements were extended up to 2037 even before their 2022 expiration.

The petition urged the high court to declare Manila Water and Maynilad as public utilities, and, therefore, subject to the auditing powers of the Commission on Audit (COA).

The group also urged the high court to set the case for oral arguments.