Guevarra says new water concession deals open for discussion, renegotiation

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2020 06:16 PM | Updated as of Jan 07 2020 07:03 PM

MANILA - Water concessionaires will be given the chance to discuss and renegotiate new water concession agreements government is drafting, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday. 

He said there will be a process of discussion with Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. once the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General finalize the new agreements.

"There will be a process of discussion and renegotiation. It's not a 100-percent take it or leave it thing. We are reasonable in so far as this matter is concerned," Guevarra told DZMM radio.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier warned Maynilad and Manila Water that they may face prosecution should they refuse to accept the new contracts.

"It's just a stand taken by the President but by and large, we believe this is something that can be discussed by both sides," Guevarra clarified.

The justice chief also said the draft of the new contracts may be available after 6 months since they still need inputs of the Department of Finance on issues pertaining to economic and financial provisions.

"We are really leaving it to the Department of Finance to fill in certain inputs pertaining to financial matters and economic issues pertaining to the reformation or adjustment of this new water concession agreement," he said.

As for the justice department, they have already removed the so-called onerous provisions, with includes the bar on government from interfering in the rate-setting mechanism of the water concessionaires, as well as the inclusion of business taxes in the setting of water rates.

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Duterte previously threatened to file fraud charges against owners of the 2 water companies over supposedly onerous provisions in the current contracts.