Palace says gov’t won’t pay damages to Manila Water, Maynilad

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019   •   451

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government will not comply with the arbitration court’s decisions as the concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water were onerous.

“Hindi, kasi nga onerous ang kontrata. Masyadong disadvantageous sa gobyerno,” Panelo said in an interview with radio station dzXL.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

Instead of paying indemnity, Panelo said the president has ordered for the drafting of new water concession deals with provisions that are advantageous to the public.

The presidential spokesman also said that the chief executive has already directed the Department of Justice to file appropriate charges against those behind the contracts which were signed in 1997.

READ: Manila Water to work closely with gov’t for ‘acceptable scheme’ on arbitral award

“The President has also directed the filing of the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the said agreements including the latter’s owners and legal counsels, as well as agents and lawyers of the government for economic sabotage,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Manila Water continues implementation of rotational water service interruption through dry season

Maris Federez   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — More than one million Manila Water customers will be affected by the rotational water service interruption that the water concessionaire started on Thursday (Feb. 20).

Manila Water said this is due to the low water allocation, as well as its preparation for the dry season.

“So, ineexpect natin na bababa nang husto ang level ng dam. So, this early, kailangan paghandaan natin ‘yon para ‘yong limitadong supply na nakukuha natin sa Angat Dam na siyang nagsu-supply ng 96, 97 percent ng tubig para sa Metro Manila, mas ma-manage natin ng mabuti at nang tayo ay makatawid ngayong summer hanggang sa bago dumating uli ‘yong tag-ulan,” Manila Water Spokesperson Jeric Sevilla said.

In January, the water company started lowering the pressure of the water distributed to households in Metro Manila and Rizal province. This is done in off-peak hours or from 10 in the evening to 6 in the morning.

“While ‘yung interruption na binanggit natin is about 4 to 10 hours. In reality, mas maikli dahil nga madaling araw lang natin gagawin. So, generally, mga 11 to about 3 to 4 in the morning lang ito kung saan hindi nila mararamdaman,” Sevilla said.

He added that the schedule and the affected areas of the water service interruption can be found on the company’s Facebook page.

Manila Water added that the rotational water service interruption will continue as long as the water allocation by the National Water Resources Board is still below normal.

For the past several months, the water allocated to Manila Water is just 42 cubic meters per second —much lower than the normal allocation of 46 cubic meters per second.

As of 8:00 AM on Friday, the water level in Angat dam was at 202.48 meters.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the rain brought by the Northeast Monsoon or Amihan contributed to the rise of the water level in Angat.

To date, Metro Manila will still have a reduced water allocation.

The NWRB said the board will still have to discuss how much water will be allocated in Metro Manila in the coming months. — (from the report of Asher Cadapan, Jr.) /mbmf

Formal complaint necessary for gov’t to act on alleged ‘pastillas’ scheme in BI

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang vowed to take action on the reported anomaly inside the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the so-called ‘pastillas’ scheme.

But the Palace said, it could only act on the matter once a formal complaint is filed.

“Any violation, any transgression, any anomaly, the Palace frowns on it and will act on it, if there are complaints formally filed before its office,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Based on an expose by Senator Risa Hontiveros, BI personnel were allegedly taking bribes of up to P10,000 from Chinese nationals who wanted to enter and work in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry.

Panelo said the Palace is expecting BI Commissioner Jaime Morente to spearhead the investigation and enforce the necessary actions on involved BI personnel.

“The Immigration commissioner is tasked to do his job. Meaning, apart from the usual governing of his own territory, he has to know if there is an anomaly in his territory and respond to it,” the Palace Spokesperson said.

Five immigration officials were already relieved following the Senate inquiry yesterday.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate on stopping POGO operations in the country if evidence of corruption is proven because that would definitely have a huge impact on the country’s economy.

“Di ba sabi nga ni Presidente, ‘there is no sacred cow in this government. If it’s against the interest of the people and general welfare, I’ll stop it.’ This is the kind of President we have,” Panelo said. — MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace requires visitors, personnel to answer health declaration form amid nCoV threat

Robie de Guzman   •   February 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday started requiring Palace visitors and personnel to fill out a health declaration form amid the outbreak of deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Media members covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s event on Thursday afternoon were asked to answer the questions in the form, which include one’s personal information, travel history for the past 14 days and recent interactions with farm or wild animals.

All Malacañang visitors and personnel were required to sign the form prior to their entrance. Duterte is scheduled to lead the oath-taking ceremony of newly-appointed government officials in the Palace Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra said the move is part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The Palace’s action comes after the country confirmed three cases of novel coronavirus infection with one death.

The form also contains questions on one’s health and if they have experienced fever, cough, colds, and difficulty in breathing, which are among the symptoms of 2019-nCoV, in the last 14 days.

Palace guests and employees are advised to ensure that information given in the form is “true, correct, and complete.”

Failure to answer any question or giving of falsified information may merit serious consequences under the Revised Penal Code.

Aside from the distribution of health declaration form, Malacañang also implemented preventive measures including temperature screening and use of alcohol and hand sanitizer at the Palace gates. Those with body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry.

PSG members on Palace duty have also been required to wear face masks.

The Palace said the health protocol will be imposed until lifted by the Office of the President and the Department of Health.

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