MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. is open to any state review of its concession agreement after the president’s spokesman announced President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s plan to look into all government contracts with foreign and private entities, including those with the water concessionaires.
“Maynilad has always believed in the sanctity of the concession agreement and the merits of this public-private partnership as seen in the vast improvement in the service levels enjoyed by our customers since we took over,” Maynilad Chief Operating Officer Randolph T. Estrellado said on Wednesday, a day after the Palace directive.
“We welcome any review of our obligations under this agreement as has been undertaken by our regulator since the start of the concession,” he added in a text message.
Manila Water Co., Inc. declined to comment when asked to react to the President’s order.
“None at the moment,” Geodino V. Carpio, Manila Water chief operating officer, said in a text message when asked to comment on the order.
Asked for comment, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said the President’s directive was not addressed to his office.
“I cannot comment because in the first place I’m not a lawyer. Pangalawa (Second), it’s not addressed to us. It’s addressed to DoJ (Department of Justice),” he told reporters.
Mr. Velasco added that he was ready to submit a report as called for by Mr. Duterte during their meeting on March 19, days after a water shortage was experienced by Metro Manila’s east zone under Manila Water’s concession.
“Ready ako (I’m ready),” he said, adding that the MWSS would meet this week to approve his recommendations.
He said he can submit the report as early as April 6, or days ahead of the April 10 deadline set by the President, and not on April 7, as cited by Presidential Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo.
In an earlier interview, Ramoncito S. Fernandez, Maynilad president and chief executive officer, said he did not feel that the company was alluded to when the President threatened to fire officials and terminate the concession agreements.
“I don’t think Maynilad is alluded to, we don’t have a problem,” he said about the threat of losing its concession contract. But he said the company is prepared to respond to Malacañang and “rehash” its existing medium-term and long-term plans.
Mr. Velasco said on Wednesday that Maynilad was not part of the problem referred to by Mr. Duterte.
On Tuesday, Mr. Panelo said the President “instructed all agencies to check and review all contracts entered into and remove onerous provisions that might be detrimental to the lives of the Filipinos.”
Maynilad entered into a concession agreement with MWSS in February 2017, with respect to the agency’s west service area.
Under the concession agreement, MWSS grants Maynilad the sole right to manage, operate, repair, decommission and refurbish all fixed and movable assets required to provide water and sewerage services for 25 years ending in 2022.
In September 2009, MWSS approved an extension of its concession agreement with Maynilad for another 15 years to 2037.
Manila Water was granted the exclusive rights to provide the same services in the east service area, covering the same time period. — Victor V. Saulon