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Hindi kaya! MWSS admits lack of capacity to take over water distribution

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has admitted that the agency has no capacity for now to take over water distribution operations from private concessionaires Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Corporation.

MWSS Deputy Administrator for Engineering Leonor Cleofas made the revelation during the joint congressional inquiry at the House of Representatives following the agency’s unilateral revocation of the 15-year extension of concession agreements given the firms controlled by the giant Salim-Consunji consortium and Ayala Corporation.

Cleofas told members of the Committees on Public Accounts and of Good Governance and Public Accountability that MWSS is currently undermanned for a takeover in the water operations in the Greater Manila Area, 22 years after their supposed role was transferred to Pangilinan-operated Maynilad and the Ayala-owned Manila Water.

“Sa ngayon po with the existing resources, hindi (po kaya),” said Cleofas.

Cleofas said MWSS only have less 100 personnel in their manpower which is definitely not enough to fill in the role of Maynilad and Manila Water in case of a government takeover.

The two water firms have raised opposition against the board decision of MWSS to unilaterally revoke the supposed 15-year extension of their concession agreements, starting in 2022.

Maynilad President and CEO Ramoncito Ferdnandez said they view MWSS’ decision to revoke the 2009 board resolution that extends the concession agreement with “grave concern.”

“We would like to react, that it is with very grave concern that we view this action. We believe also that it is not proper to unilaterally revoke and agreement,” said Fernandez.

Antonio Aquino, board member of the Ayala-owned Manila Water, shared the same sentiments with Fernandez, adding that the extension was designed so they would be able capitalize their investments in the water concession.

“Base po doon sa approval ay ginawa po namin yung spending plan—that presumes na mababawi po namin ang investments for that extended period of time,” said Aquino.

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