President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendations of the review panel to renegotiate the concession agreement with both the Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.
Guevarra said he met with President Duterte Tuesday night and presented to him their proposed new water concession agreements.
According to him, they were arranging the holding of a meeting with the two water concessionaires.
“In principle, the President has approved our recommendation so the next step will be to sit down with the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila to discuss the specific terms and conditions of a proposed new water concession agreement with each of them,” Guevarra told the media forum.
“We have just discussed it last night. The President has just given his go signal last night. So we intend to immediately schedule our negotiations with the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila: namely Manila Water and Maynilad,” he added.
Guevarra admitted the President did not mention any deadline for the concessionaires to finalize and approve the proposed new contract.
He recalled that during the meeting, the review panel explained to the President that in general the proposed new water concession agreements aimed to eliminate the onerous provisions in the previous contracts.
“We described to him in general the provisions that will have to go and new provisions that will be incorporated, that will somehow, that will make the water concession agreements more equitable, more transparent and will lessen contingent liabilities on the part of the government plus improving its governance system,” Guevarra stressed.
Guevarra refused to give details on whether charges would be filed against those behind the disadvantageous concession agreements.
However, the Justice Secretary admitted that during their meeting, Duterte “mentioned the Anti-Graft Law in relation to the original water concession agreements, but gave no specific directive on whether to press charges or not.”
Duterte ordered the DOJ to review the concession agreements after discovering onerous provisions in the existing contracts, and after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore issued a decision stating the Philippine government should pay P7.4 billion to Manila Water and P3.4 billion to Maynilad for the losses they suffered from unenforced water rate hike.