Revised water concession deal out before year-end – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019   •   248

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said it is now forming an inter-agency team which is tasked to come up with a revised version of water concession agreement before the end of the year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the composite team is comprised of lawyers from various government agencies, including the DOJ, Department of Finance, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We are still forming our team. We will come up with a government version of the concession agreement. So, we’ll hopefully come up with a revised version of the water concession agreement that does not include the onerous and what is considered illegal provisions,” Guevarra said.

“Hopefully, before the year is over, we can have one,” he added.

The DOJ chief said the panel will thoroughly review the provisions stated in the water supply deals with Manila Water and Maynilad, and revise those that are disadvantageous to the public.

“We are just trying to remove the provisions which should be removed because these are not favorable to the people, to the consuming public,” he said.

“We’ll do it within the government first. Once we are ready with our version of what a good water concession agreement should be, that’s the time we will sit down with the water concessionaires,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week 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.

The Palace earlier insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Guevarra said the government may opt to take over if private water firms will stop distributing water in Metro Manila due to the problem. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

DOJ orders NBI to probe slay of suspended BuCor exec

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the killing of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) legal division chief Atty. Frederic Anthony Santos.

In a directive issued on Wednesday, February 19, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered and granted authority to NBI director Dante Gierran to conduct an investigation and case build-up against those behind the murder.

Santos was shot dead on Wednesday afternoon by unidentified gunmen while waiting to pick up his child in front of a school in Muntinlupa City, just a few meters away from the gate of the New Bilibid Prison.

He died instantly after sustaining gunshot wounds to head, neck and left arm based on an autopsy conducted by authorities.

Guevarra also ordered the NBI to file appropriate charges against persons found responsible for the crime if evidence warrants.

He also directed Gierran to submit to his office reports on the progress of the subject investigation and case build-up within 30 days.

In a separate statement, the DOJ chief said that Santos’ fatal shooting is still under investigation but is “very likely” connected to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) issue.

Santos was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman last September 2019 in relation to the alleged misapplication of the GCTA law and other time credits to prisoners.

He was supposed to return to work in March after serving six months of suspension.

Santos was among the resource persons in a Senate Investigation into the GCTA mess.

Irregularities in the GCTA law application grabbed headlines following reports on the possible early release of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and her companion, Allan Sanchez in 1993 after his sentence of 7-term Reclusion Perpetua was shortened.

The issue led to the revelations of the release of some heinous crime convicts and the anomalies in the BuCor. It also led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as BuCor chief, and President Duterte to set a deadline for the surrender of nearly 2,000 GCTA-freed convicts or be hunted down by police.

Maynilad announces 4-18 hour rotational water interruptions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 5, 2020

Maynilad has announced that there will be rotational water interruptions from 4 to 8 hours due to the low water level in Angat and Ipo dam.

From 101 meters — which is the maintaining level of Ipo Dam— it dropped to 100.20 meters as of Wednesday (February 5) at 6:00 a.m.

Maynilad Spokesperson Grace Laxamana said it would take time for the water supply to be delivered to customers’ houses due to the low water level in the said dams.

“So kapag mabagal iyong treatment process siyempre mas mabagal rin ang pagpuno ng mga reservoirs natin bago natin mai-deliver sa mga customer natin, (So if the treatment process is slow, it will take time to fill the reservoirs before it can be delivered to our customers),” she said.

Around 80 percent of Maynilad’s customers will experience the rotational water interruption.

Maynilad advises its customers to take note of the rotational service interruption in their area and make sure to conserve water.

“Sinisiguro natin na magkakaroon naman sila araw-araw ng tubig kaya po huwag silang mag-hoard at ipunin lamang iyong kinakailangan nila for the whole day (We are ensuring [customers] will have enough water supply everyday so they should not hoard and just reserve enough water for the whole day),” Laxamana said.—AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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Villar denies family is interested in taking over Metro Manila water distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar has denied allegations that his family has interest in taking over the water distribution sector in Metro Manila.

When asked during a press briefing at Malacañang, Villar responded, “No.”

“I’m not in any position to answers questions regarding those I have no involvement,” he added.

Villar’s family owns the PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation, which provides water supply in several provinces.

President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Maynilad and Manila Water that he would revoke the present water contracts if they refuse to agree with the new terms presented by the government.

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