Water-intensive facilities get enterprising amid water service interruptions

Maris Federez   •   October 24, 2019   •   169

MANILA, Philippines – The rotational water service interruptions scheduled by water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, had started in several areas in Metro Manila, Cavite and Bulacan at dawn on Thursday (October 24).

Maynilad and Manila Water adopted the said measure following the continuing decrease of the water level in Angat Dam.

Read: Maynilad warns of possible water service interruption in coming days

Alongside the residents stocking water for their daily use, owners of water-intensive facilities, such as laundromats and car wash centers, get enterprising to go on business as usual.

Laundry shop crewmembers say water service interruptions create big impact on their business as they need to adjust their operating hours in cases when their stored water in their water tanks would not suffice.

“Halimbawa nung nakaraan ang tubig bumalik siya ng alas tres na ng hapon, so off kami sa umaga tapos mag-oopen kami alas tres na or dos na ang opening namin” Nida Dagtan, a laundryshop staff said.

She also said water service interruptions affect their salaries as daily income wagers, particularly when they have to close their shop earlier than the usual time.

A carwash shop owner, meanwhile, said they have to store water in every way and containers they can so as not to have shortage during business hours, to the extent of securing rainwater catchments.

“Nagsasahod kami sa ulan para dun sa mga lower parts ng sasakyan dun namin ginagamit para makatipid kami ng tubig,” said Regie Echano, a carwash shop owner.

He added that on average, they can service 40 vehicles a day that’s why it is imperative that they have enough stored water.

Water refilling stations, on the other hand, would store water in two large tanks to ensure that they can service their clients even with the shortage.

“Pinupuno na po namin yung tangke para kapag walang tubig, may handa kami. May pambigay sa customer,” said Welmer Estanel, a water refilling station crew.

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB), however, advised the public to store water just enough to get by during the hours when the water supply is stalled.

This is so that Maynilad and Manila Water will not run low of water supply very quickly that would result in longer hours of water service interruption.

Based on Maynilad advisory, the areas they cover will experience around 8 to 18 hours of no water services; while Manila Water’s scheduled water interruption in the areas they cover will happen for four to eight hours.  (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

DOJ denies conflict of interest in review of water concession deals

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday denied allegations of conflict of interest in the ongoing review of the water concession deal between the government of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The allegations surfaced following news reports that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was part of the team that reviewed the water supply agreements.

Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose family owns the Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation, one of the utility firms that may possibly become a player to replace Maynilad and Manila Water when their contract ends in 2022.

Guevarra said he does not know where these kinds of allegations came from. He also said that he led the review of water deals.

“Siyempre as SOJ, ako ang head ng review team at ginagamit ko diyan, nag-assist ng review, naturally legal staff ng DOJ. Sa office ng state counsel so sila ang nag-review niyan with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. So, yung units na yun, nagkataon lang under the supervision ni Usec. Emmeline Villar kasi may mga distribution ng work ng ng mga usecs ng DOJ,” he told reporters in an event in Manila Thursday morning.

Guevarra said the DOJ team found onerous provisions in the contracts signed in 1997 and recommended its removal as well as the crafting of new deal that would be advantageous to the public.

“Believe me when I say that any good lawyer will see the inequitable provisions in the water concession agreements, and the fact the Usec. Emmeline Villar is part of the DOJ review team is totally irrelevant,” he said.

Aglipay-Villar, a former congresswoman, also denied the allegations, adding that the DOJ conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Duterte paving the way for allies into the water industry? Nonsense! – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang vehemently denied alleged reason behind President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

Reports alleged that the Chief Executive is making a move to place his allies into the water industry.

“That’s nonsense. Si Presidente pa, walang ally-ally kay Presidente (That’s nonsense. Knowing the President, he doesn’t care for allies),” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The President earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two firms and their cohorts who were behind what he calls as onerous water concession agreements.

Such was his reaction after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore favored the water concessionaires against the government, ordering it to pay billions for not approving water rate increase under the previous administration.

The Palace scrutinized what seemed to be ‘unfair’ provisions of the water concession agreement including allegations that the government was giving the water concessionaires a cold shoulder and the intent to extend the agreement up to 2037 even prior to the contract’s expiration.

Malacañang opened the idea of a possible government take over only to ensure that water distribution service would not be cut in case none in the private sector intends to handle it.

“Initially government muna then most likely after that there will be biddings for a private company to take over,” Panelo said.

It was in 1997 when the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) signed water concession contracts with Manila Water Services Inc. and Maynilad.

It was a decision made after the government-owned facility delivered poor services and only a few investors were willing to invest their billions in improving the facility’s services which, Manila Water and Maynilad accepted through a bidding. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

MWSS cancels extension of Manila Water, Maynilad water concession deal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 11, 2019

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has revoked the extension of the government’s water concession agreement with the Manila Water and Maynilad.

MWSS Deputy Administrator for Engineering, Leonor Cleofas confirmed that they revoked the board resolution extending the water concession agreement of Maynilad and Manila Water until 2037.

The MWSS said this was prompted by the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte due to the “onerous” provisions in the said water concession agreement.

“It was on the agenda that the board tackles the resolution on the approval of the extension of the concession agreement. That was brought about by the directive of the President tackled in the Cabinet meeting… they are now revoking the board resolution adopted in 2008,” Cleofas said.

Cleofas made the confirmation on Wednesday’s (Dec. 11) joint hearing of the House Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability and on Public Accounts.

With this move by the MWSS, the concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water to service Metro Manila and parts of Luzon will expire in 2022.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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