Tolentino: Senate could review Manila Water, Maynilad deals with gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate could investigate the alleged “onerous” 1997 contracts of utility firms Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. with the government, Senator Francis Tolentino said Wednesday.
According to Tolentino, the Senate could investigate the contracts since it’s part of the oversight function of Congress being the body that grants franchises.
“As the one who gave the franchise, that’s part of the oversight of Congress… Probably it will lead to that investigation,” Tolentino said in the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
The senator, however, did not say if he will file a resolution calling for a probe. But he said he will deliver a privilege speech regarding the matter on Monday, December 9, which will then be referred to the appropriate Senate committee for discussion.
Tolentino also assured that the President’s pronouncement is not just a “knee-jerk” reaction to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore that ordered the Philippine government to indemnify Manila Water some P7.39 billion for the losses it incurred due to the non-implementation of rate hikes.
“The President is always on the side of the people. ‘Yung ‘wag ma-agrabyado (to not be disadvantaged) and that’s part of his constitutional duty, so hindi ito knee-jerk reaction na natalo (this is not a knee-jerk reaction just because the government lost),” he said.
In a speech on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to sue Manila Water and Maynilad of economic sabotage after the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that it had found that their contracts are disadvantageous not only to the government but more so to water consumers.
He also ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to come up with a new water concession contract that is favorable to the public and the government.
Also in the same speech, Duterte asked Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon if he had a hand in crafting the agreements between the government and the two water service companies.
Tolentino said he did not have any knowledge of whether senators were involved in the crafting of the allegedly onerous concession agreements.
Manila Water and Maynilad distribute water in Metro Manila and parts of Cavite and Rizal provinces under agreements signed with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) during the Ramos administration in 1997. The deals were then called “the world’s largest water privatization.”
Edited by KGA
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