House probe on water concession deals sought

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2019 03:34 PM

Residents line up during a water distribution drive in Mandaluyong. File Photo. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Lawmakers have sought an investigation into water concession agreements of distributors Maynilad and Manila Water with the government, following President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism.

Dasmariñas, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga through House Resolution No. 572 asked the House of Representatives to direct the appropriate committee to probe the concession agreements.

He also sought an inquiry on the Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration's order to the government to pay P3.4 billion to Maynilad and P7.4 billion to Manila Water as compensation for losses the water concessionaires incurred due to denied rate increases.

Bagong Henerasyon Party List Rep Bernadette Herrera-Dy claimed that the water distributors failed to meet some terms of agreements.

"No one monitors their compliance to the CA (concession agreement). Napaka-one sided talaga ng CA," she said.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro meanwhile called for the nationalization of the water distribution system instead of giving it to a private firm.

The Pangilinan-owned Maynilad said Thursday it was "open to discussing" its concession agreement with government. 

Manila Water on the other hand said it was "more than willing" to strike a "workable solution" with the Duterte government.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said his department was preparing a "serious amendment, if not a total overhaul" of the concession agreements of government with the water distributors.

A review of the contracts reveals onerous provisions such as distributors' business taxes, payments for debt service, and penalty for noncompliance obligation, among others, according to Guevarra.

President Duterte on Tuesday threatened to pursue economic sabotage charges against the water distributors as he claimed that Filipinos were being "milked by billions."

-report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News