By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Do you want to see President Duterte fuming mad?
All you have to do is mention Maynilad Water Services (MWS) and Manila Water Company (MWC) Inc.
He wants to hold officials of both the MWS and MWC accountable for their burdensome water concession agreement with the government.
In his anger, Duterte even threatened to charge senators with economic sabotage for supposedly approving onerous provisions in the 1997 water concession agreements. He said he would also expose lawmakers who had a hand in writing the contracts.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, however, was quick to mention that senators were not involved in the crafting of the provisions of the government’s agreements with the water concessionaires or other public utilities then and now.
People ought to know that public utility companies should first secure a congressional franchise before concerned government agencies could issue necessary permits for them to operate.
These franchise bills come from the House of Representatives and go through the necessary legislative process before the President signs them.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes Duterte’s explanation that senators are being taken for a ride by the water distributors.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded its review of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s contract with the water firms. It found 12 disadvantageous provisions stipulated in the 1997 deal accomplished during the time of President Fidel Ramos.
Among the provisions the DOJ found unfavorable were the prohibition against government interference in rate-setting and the indemnity for possible losses in the event of government interference.
Some quarters opine that the motive behind the attacks against MWS and MWC is to pry open the gateway for the entry of a favored third party concessionaire.
How true is this?
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If there is any to blame for the water service interruptions being experienced by residents of Metro Manila and neighboring areas, the government should look itself in the mirror.
Blame it on the previous administrations for the lack of foresight. They should have built new reservoirs and looked for other water sources in anticipation of population growth.
Every day, there are more births than deaths. Logically, the daily demand for water use increases, but the supply remains the same.
Meantime, by cloud seeding or natural occurrences, we have to pray for rains to come and fill up the reservoirs.
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