The Justice department said Wednesday the new water concession agreements will not be fatal to the water concessionaires in Metro Manila.
It made the statement even as President Rodrigo Duterte said he had given the go signal to government lawyers to present the new water concession contracts to Maynilad and Manila Water.
“We’re facing problems in and out of our country. Grave problems. Locally, it’s the water issue and I have given the go signal to our lawyers to present it to the concessionaires,’’ Duterte said in a speech during the oathtaking of new government officials.
Senator Imee Marcos urged the water concessionaires to study and accept the new contract of President Duterte.
She said it was the Filipino people’s human right to have reliable, affordable water.
“Any commercial interests can only be secondary to that right,” she said.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said since water is essential to life and very basic to people’s existence, it cannot be left to business corporations to decide.
Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy asked Malacañang to publish its proposed new contracts with the water distribution companies in the spirit of transparency.
“I request Malacañang to publish in full, on its official Facebook pages and possibly in a newspaper of general circulation, the Cabinet-approved proposed new water contracts with the MWSS concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad,” she said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the new deals would only excise old provisions considered to be highly disadvantageous to the government and replace it with “more equitable” provisions.
“A gun will kill you. It’s not something that we will offer to the water concessionaires,” Guevarra told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
“It’s something that will give life, life in the sense that it will be a better contract. You remove all illegal provisions, you put in terms that will be more equitable to the government and to the people so that’s a good contract. It’s not something that will kill the water concessionaires.”
Duterte ordered the review of the government’s concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water Services even before the two water concessionaires separately won its arbitration cases before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which compelled the Philippine government to compensate them for the alleged multi-billion-peso losses they incurred for the non-implementation of water rates hikes.
The review conducted by the DOJ revealed that the contracts contained several “onerous” provisions grossly disadvantageous to the government.
This prompted both water concessionaires to announce they would no longer pursue the arbitral awards.
According to Guevarra, he believes Maynilad and Manila Water will likely agree to the new contracts since these will remove the so-called onerous provisions. With MJ Blancaflor, Macon Ramos-Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz