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Tiklop kay Duterte! Manila Water, Maynilad will no longer collect P11B from gov’t

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Water concessionaires Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services have waived its respective arbitral victories in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against the Philippine government after it ordered to pay losses stemming from rejected water rate hikes.

During Tuesday joint inquiry of the House Committees on Public Accounts and on Good Government and Public Accountability, top officials of the country’s major water concessionaires seemed to heed President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal after he castigated the onerous ruling of the Singapore-based tribunal.

“Opo. Susunod kami sa kagustuhan ng gobyerno at Pangulo,” Manila Water President and CEO Jose Rene Almendras told Public Accounts committee chair Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) when asked if the Ayala-owned company will still pursue the arbitral ruling against the government.

In his prepared statement, Almendras, who previously served as Cabinet Secretary in the former Aquino regime, said they are willing to cooperate with the administration on how they will settle the arbitral ruling which is both acceptable to the government and to its customers.

“Makikipagtulungan kami sa gobyerno para makahanap ng nararapat na solusyon ukol sa arbitral award na katanggap-tanggap sa pamahalaan at customer,” he added.

President Duterte was furious over a recent ruling by the Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), wherein, the Philippine government has been ordered to pay Manila Water with P7.39 billion for the company’s losses from June 1, 2015 to November 22, 2019 after the national government decided not to pay its demand amounting to P79 billion from 2015 to 2017 when it was not allowed to raise tariffs.

Meanwhile, Maynilad CEO Ramoncito Fernandez said the Salim-Consunji consortium being operated by businessman Manny Pangilinan have decided since 2017 to forgo the P3.4-billion arbitral award granted by PCA.

“Na-award ang arbitral award sa Maynilad noong 2017. After we have followed up the government, noong hindi kami binibigyan ng pansin, di na ho kami nagpursigi,” said Fernandez.

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