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Duterte urged to release amended contracts with water firms

/ 05:12 AM January 11, 2020

It’s been three days and no official documents have come out from Malacañang to back President Duterte’s threats against Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Considering this, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)—which has been pushing for a government takeover of the concessions with Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)—called on the Department of Justice to make public any amended contracts with the two companies.“If it is true that the DOJ has removed onerous provisions in the contract, they should make these public,” Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr. said in an interview. “Let there be an independent study of these contracts.”

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Mr. Duterte had threatened to remove the owners of Ayala group-led Manila Water and the Manuel Pangilinan-led Maynilad for allegedly ripping off the government through the concession agreements with MWSS.

On Tuesday, Mr. Duterte said the two companies should accept amended contracts—with the purported onerous provisions removed —or their concessions would be rescinded. However, the Chief Executive said there was only a draft of such revised contracts.

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Both Manila Water and Maynilad have withheld comments on the President’s statements, saying they have not received any copies of new contracts or formal communication from the government.

Reyes said that, from the onset, the whole process of reviewing and entering into new contracts had been devoid of any public participation.

“It is the consumers who will end up paying, yet they are never consulted,” he said. “In fact, the original contracts themselves do not provide mechanisms for public participation in the affairs of the water services.”

Bayan is pushing the nationalization of water services, saying that the sector in private hands “will always be subject to profiteering.”

Earlier, the MWSS announced in a hearing at the House of Representatives that the agency has revoked the extension of the concessions up to 2037.

“The original contract is set to expire 2022,” Reyes said. “Absent any extension, the water services should revert to the national government. It should be run as a public service not as a business.”

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TAGS: manila water co. inc., Maynilad Water Services Inc.
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