House OKs Manila Water, Maynilad franchise bills on 2nd reading sans debate again

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2021 01:10 AM

House OKs Manila Water, Maynilad franchise bills on 2nd reading sans debate again 1

MANILA - The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on 2nd reading the franchise bills of Maynilad Water and Manila Water without debate once again.

The bills, sponsored for plenary deliberations, were among those called for omnibus approval as local bills. They were approved in ayes and nays vote during the plenary session, paving the way for eventual final approval.

This was a stark contrast to the 13 hearings the panel conducted before it junked the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise last year.

The quick approval prompted House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate to object to what he believes is the railroading of the 2 bills. 

“Yes, we object to the closure of sponsorship and debate. While this may be labeled as local bills, it includes bills for example that we want to interpellate, HB 9422 the franchise for Maynilad, and HB 9423, franchise for Manila Water," he said.

Though outyelled during the ayes and nayes vote on his objection, the majority allowed Zarate to explain his position. 

“Alalahanin po natin Madam Speaker na ang pagbigay ng concession ng tubig ng MWSS dito sa Maynilad at sa Manila Water ang nagiging template ng iba't ibang level ng privatization ngayon sa serbisyo ng tubig sa iba't ibang bahagi ng bansa," he said.

When the vote on 2nd reading was taken, it was still approved, despite Zarate’s objections. 

The bills were submitted to the plenary session as House Bills 9422 (Maynilad) and 9423 (Manila Water Company) by the Committee on Legislative Franchises.

These were originally filed as House Bills 9367 and 9313 for Maynilad and Manila Water respectively.

Meanwhile, Dasmarinas City, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga filed House Bill 9313 which seeks a 25-year congressional franchise for Manila Water to establish, operate and maintain the waterworks and sewerage system in the east zone service area of Metro Manila and the province of Rizal.

The House referred the bills to its Committee on Legislative Franchises. 

Barzaga is the president of the National Unity Party (NUP) which also counts the chairman of the committee, Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Chicoy Alvarez as a member. 

The NUP is led by businessman Enrique K. Razon, who now controls Manila Water.

The franchise bills come just 2 months after the government inked new concession agreements with the 2 companies after the old agreements were renegotiated by the government.

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