By Hannah Torregoza
Administration ally Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has expressed his belief that President Duterte’s move to oppose the arbitration rulings that ordered the government to pay billions of pesos in damages to water concessionaires was a timely and appropriate action to stop the abusive practices of water firms.
Go said water concession agreements should be fair to the Filipinos and thus, Maynilad and Manila Water should fulfill their obligations to the Filipino people.
Duterte’s tirades against the water firms comes after a Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ordered the Philippine government to pay PhP7.39 billion in compensation to water concessionaire Manila Water after the government rejected water rate increases since 2015.
“Tubig natin ‘yun. Tubig ng Pilipino ‘yun tapos tayo ang pinagbabayad ng taxes, hindi naman po maayos (That is our water. That is the water of Filipinos, and then we end up paying taxes when the quality of their service is poor),” Go said in an interview during his recent visit to typhoon victims in Gubat, Sorsogon.
“Kung ipinangako nila sa contract, dapat nilang tuparin at huwag nilang ipasa ‘yung hirap o burden sa mga tao, (They have to abide what they promised in the contract. They should not pass the burden to the people),” he said.
Duterte had earlier expressed his anger on the decision, threatening to file charges against the private water concessionaires for “fooling” Filipinos since they signed contracts that violate the law.
The President said he will not comply with the arbitration ruling, and instead go after these water concessionaires and file cases of economic sabotage against them.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also revealed alleged onerous provisions deemed disadvantageous to the public because they prohibited the government from adjusting water rates.
Go echoed the Chief Executive’s frustration, saying he can’t accept the fact Filipinos were suffering with the poor quality of water services provided by both water firms.
“Naghihirap na nga ‘yung mga Pilipino, hirap pa tayo sa tubig sa Maynila tapos papahirapan niyo pa. Pagmamay-ari ng bawat Pilipino ‘yung tubig na kanilang dini-distribute (The Filipinos are already suffering, we are having a hard time getting water here in Manila, then they make it even more difficult. Each Filipino have a right to own the water that they distribute),” Go said.
“Nagkataon lang sila ang nanalo ng kontrata. Dapat ‘yung kontrata ay maging patas sa bawat Pilipino. (It just happens that they are the ones who won the contract. But the contract should be fair to each Filipino),” he said.
“Huwag pahirapan ang mga kababayan natin at huwag gisahin sa sarili nilang mantika ang ating mga kababayan, (Let’s not make it hard for our fellowmen and make them suffer for something they do not deserve),” the neophyte lawmaker stressed.