Officials from both Manila Water, and the state regulatory body Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), recently signed a new concessionaire contract.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced the deal’s closure, stating that the new agreement will result in improved customer service, but mentioned no specifics.
The revised agreement comes a year after the original contract between the government and the Ayala-owned provider was placed under review by President Rodrigo Duterte after claims of onerous stipulations were raised.
In 2019, at least 12 of the stipulations were cited by the justice department as officials from both Manila Water and the Villar-owned Maynilad, were accused of benefiting from a contract that negatively impacted consumers, including the government itself.
One such stimulation granted indemnity to the companies in the event of water rate changes from “government interference”.
This resulted in an international court ruling that ordered the government to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion and Maynilad P3.6 billion, for “losses or damages”. The companies later said however, that they would not pursue the refunds.
Guevarra himself was tasked with reviewing the 25 year old contract originally set under the Ramos Administration.
Meanwhile,secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Renato Reyes Jr. called for full, public disclosure of the new agreement, saying that congress and the consumers must also be included in the decision making process.
The group has been pushing for the nationalization of water supply and sanitation services, as privatization “will always be subject to profiteering”.
Manila Water services the east zone areas of the MWSS, including 23 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and Rizal.
Photo: UNTV News