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.)
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)
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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