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Partners in crime? Poe sees collusion between gov’t, Maynilad, Manila Water

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By Nancy Carvajal

Senator Grace Poe believes government officials colluded with Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. in crafting the concession agreement which was now found to contain several provisions disadvantageous to the public.

Poe raised questions about the ties between the government and the two water concessionaires during the hearing of the Senate committee on public services on bills creating the Department of Water Resources.

The water concession agreement signed by Maynilad and Manila Water with the government was raised during the hearing.

“Merong nakikitang collusion pero sa ngayon kasi we have to go by, we have to know who drafted the contract to make this advantageous to us, Ngayon, meron bang liability ang concessionaires?’’ Poe asked.

The senator said officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) should explain why they agreed to extend the concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water until 2037 despite the existence of some questionable provisions in the contract.

Among the red flags that the Department of Justice raised during its review of the contract include the provision stripping the government of its power to interfere in setting rates, as well as the clause allowing water concessionaires to pass on corporate income taxes to consumers.

During the hearing, MWSS administrator Emmanuel Salamat said they recently revoked the extension of the concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water.

Poe, however, expressed concern on how the abrupt cancellation of the extension will affect the two water concessionaires’ service and ongoing projects.

“Ako pinaka-nababahala ngayon ay ang pagrevoke ng extension contract dahil kung ‘yun ang mangyayari, alam mo kahit magpatayo tayo ng Wawa Dam, ‘yung treatment facilities n’yan, at saka ‘yung conveyance, ‘yung pagdi-distribute ng tubig sa mga household, sa mga businesses, kapag hindi itinuloy ang pagpapagawa ng mga ‘yan kahit na may Wawa Dam ka na, kapag itinigil ngayon ‘yung distribution process, mawawalan tayo ng tubig, ngayon na ire-revoke ‘yan,” she said.

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