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Duterte warns water firms;‘no increase in charges,’ they vowed

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PUNCHLINE

By FRED LOBO

Fred M. Lobo

Fred M. Lobo

President Duterte has warned major water distribution companies to shape up or face sanctions or even takeover.
Don’t play with our water or I’ll drown you, The Punisher warned.

* * *

Maynilad and Manila Water vowed to make amends by holding off impending increases in their charges on consumers and to comply with other requirements.

We respect the President’s wishes, they said.

* * *

The President had earlier threatened that the government will take legal action if the two water concessionaires
refuse to remove the alleged onerous provisions in their agreements signed earlier with the government.

* * *

President Duterte threatened to sue and jail persons behind the alleged irregular government contracts with the two water companies.

“Economic sabotage,” Duterte cried.

* * *

The President got mad that the two water firms got a ruling from an arbitration court in Singapore ordering the government to pay Manila Water ₱7.4 billion for the non-implementation of water rate increases.

* * *

The President vowed not to reimburse Manila Water for alleged losses based on the ar-bitral ruling Distribute water belonging to the state and don’t sell it as a commodity, he said.

* * *

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo pointed out that the President ordered that the contracts with the two water firms be fixed because they are wrong.

“We found onerous provisions that must be changed. The two parties said they are willing to settle the matter,” he added.

* * *

He said that the President vowed not to reimburse Manila Water for alleged losses based on the ar¬bitral ruling even if he might be considered a “pariah” in the in¬ternational community.

We cannot bargain away the country’s sovereignty over water resources, he added.

* * *

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go added 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.

* * *

Go said that water concession or distribution agreements should be fair to the Filipinos and Maynilad and Manila Water should fulfill their obligations to the Filipino people.

“That is our water. That is the water of Filipinos, and then we (even) end up paying (their) taxes when the quality of their service is poor),” he lamented.

* * *

“Naghihirap na nga ‘yung mga Pilipino, hirap pa tayo sa tubig sa Maynila, tapos papahirapan pa niyo,” he added, referring to impending additional charges or rate.

* * *

Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel said it was only proper for the House of Representatives to look into the contracts signed earlier by water concessionaires with the government.

“Disadvantageous,” he said.

* * *

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga filed House Resolution (HR) No. 572, prodding the Lower Chamber to carry out a probe on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore ordering the Philippine government to pay Manila Water P7.39 billion for the losses it incurred from June 1, 2015, to November 22, 2019, or when it was barred from increasing water rates.

“The P7.39 billion comes after the country went through a recent water shortage that brought misery to tens of thousands of Filipinos… The right to water is a fundamental human right is and is a key driver of economic and social development and all efforts should be made to ensure that every Filipino has access to clean and potable water,” he added.

* * *

Both water concessionaires announced they are putting off planned rate hikes for 3 months, adding that they respect the President’s wishes and are willing to talk further with the government, they vowed.
Let’s drink to that!

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