Manila Water, Maynilad claim ‘force majeure’ over water woes
Robie de Guzman • June 26, 2019 • 1368
MANILA, Philippines – Concessionaires, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. have submitted a “notice of force majeure” to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) amid the worsening water shortage in Metro Manila.
MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said on Tuesday, the “force majeure” was filed by concessionaires as a defense to the water troubles being felt in the metropolis amid declining water level in Angat Dam.
The notice, under the concession agreement, exempts the contracting parties from fulfilling their contractual obligations for causes that could not be anticipated and/or are beyond their control.
It also suspends some portions of the utility firms’ service obligations for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events.
During the oversight hearing conducted by the House Committees on Metro Manila development, public works and highways and natural resources, Ty said the notice would be discussed and decided upon by the MWSS Board of Trustees on Wednesday.
“But we reiterated to them that they are not exempted from all obligations… We repeatedly told concessions to follow the requirement to provide notices to the public or else this could be a violation to the agreement,” Ty said.
“They have to make sure that the notices are correct and they keep their schedules, there’s also the issue of quality of water,” he added.
The MWSS in April imposed a P1.13 billion fine against the Manila Water for failing to meet service requirements. Half of the penalty was supposed to go to customers in refund.
Water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, will no longer push for their rate increase in January 2020.
During the hearing of the House Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability on Tuesday (December 10), President & CEO of Manila Water Jose Almendras said they will suspend the water rate increase in January.
“Ipina-retain po namin sa MWSS [Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System] sa aming sulat noong ikatlo ng Disyembre ang aming hangarin para magkasundo kung paano maaayos na maipatutupad ang pagpaliban sa nasabing naaprubahang taas singil ng tubig, (We asked the MWSSto retain our letter last December 3 regarding our aim to negotiate and implement the suspension of the approved water rate increase)” he said.
This is amid the alleged onerous contracts between the government and the water concessionaires. Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has disclosed that several provisions in the 1997 water concession agreements have been found to be onerous and disadvantageous to the government.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)
Water concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad, announced on Tuesday (December 10) that they will no longer collect the P11 billion compensation from the government.
On Tuesday (December 10), the two concessionaires said they are willing to work with the government to review and revise several provisions in the water concession agreement.
“Ang Maynilad po ay bukas at makikipag-cooperate sa gobyerno sa pag-review ng mga gustong provisions ng gobyerno sa kasalukuyang concession agreement ng Maynilad, (Maynilad is open to cooperate with the government to review the provisions that the government wants in the current concession agreement of Maynilad)” according to Maynilad President & CEO Ramoncito Fernandez.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration, that is based in Singapore, has ordered the government to pay P3.4 billion to Maynilad and P7.4 billion to Manila Water as compensation for losses due to denied rate increases.
Maynilad and Manila Water also suspended the implementation of water rate increase in January.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)
MANILA, Philippines – Several provisions of the concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water seem unfavorable to the government, according to some senators.
Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go noted Manila Water’s violations in the provisions of the contract which the water company must adhere to, such as providing efficient wastewater treatment facilities across the metropolis.
“Manila Water has yet to comply with its contractual obligation to provide for sewerage and wastewater treatment facilities in Metro Manila, which clearly constitutes a breach of the concession agreement,” he said.
Even Senator Cynthia Villar believes scrutiny of the concession agreement is very much necessary particularly the provision that deals with the water rate adjustments.
“Iyong sinasabi na (the part where they said) we have no control over water concessionaires and if the government doesn’t agree to the rate increase, then the government will have to pay, dapat pinag-uusapan iyong rate. Dapat dyina-justify mo iyong rate (the rate must be discussed. You have to justify your rate,)“ Villar argued.
The two senators expressed support for recommendations to review all contracts entered into by the government and make sure that they do not compromise the welfare and rights of the Filipino people. MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
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