“I am hopeful that the two companies will faithfully fulfill their duties.”
Like a breath of fresh air, Maynilad and Manila Water have been granted new franchises effective this month until 2037. Under their new franchises, the two water concessionaires, their successors or assignees, shall “conform to the ethics of honest enterprise” and shall provide water supply and sewerage services “in a prudent, efficient, and satisfactory manner.” Moreover, they are also mandated to comply with environmental and sustainability standards and to work hand-in-hand with local government units to ensure safe and inclusive development.
We welcome this news in light of the threat of water shortage in the metro and the sustained high demand for clean and potable water during this pandemic. Thus, we continue to seek reliable and stable services from these two companies.
As such, it is inevitable and necessary for these water concessionaires to coordinate with local government units to ensure continuous supply of safe drinking water. Local government units play a significant role in the preservation of our natural resources and other protected areas. LGUs are also mandated by the Local Government Code to maintain waterways and water supply systems. It is at the LGU level where various water projects are implemented.
There is an indisputable and reasonable expectation that water concessionaires should extend support to LGUs. Maintenance of water sources and waterways, albeit a public service, is no easy feat, especially in typhoon-prone areas. It is crucial that water infrastructures be kept in good condition to ensure reliable supply. Apart from this, communities near water sources also need support against degrading ecosystems affecting their living conditions, decreased protection during typhoons, and risks of heavy flooding in downstream areas.
With the full devolution of functions to LGUs, there are many fundamental changes as well as serious challenges in resource mobilization and revenue allocation. Hence, I deem that it is high time for water concessionaires to render necessary support to LGUs. Apart from fulfilling corporate social responsibilities, water concessionaires are also called to abide by local ordinances, rules, and regulations relating to utilization, development, and management of water resources.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Quezon has long enacted an ordinance approving the 2016 Revenue Code of the Province of Quezon which imposes an environmental enhancement fee for bulk water extraction from the watershed and river basin in the province. I, therefore, call for the compliance of water companies on the payment of fees along with its usage of the province’s waterways. The fee will go to environmental programs of the province that aim to protect and support the affected communities where water is sourced. The Provincial Government of Quezon has proposed a water system and welfare protection program that will promote inclusive economic development in municipalities of Real, Infanta, and General Nakar where water sources are located.
Water concessionaires are committed to ensure environmental sustainability as it keeps water fully accessible and available at any given day. LGUs are likewise mandated to preserve these water sources and infrastructures. The cooperation and coordination of both entities are important to expand capability to develop water structures, maintain cleanliness of water sources, and protect affected communities and ecosystems. With the renewed franchises, I am hopeful that the two companies will faithfully fulfill their responsibilities.