Bayan welcomes water firms’ decision to suspend rate hikes, indemnification
MANILA, Philippines – The decision of Manila Water and Maynilad to suspend the impending rate hikes and the indemnification from government is a welcome development, according to the group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes on Tuesday, however, maintained that the concession agreement should still be revised as it supposedly contains onerous provisions.
“We welcome reports that Manila Water and Maynilad are no longer seeking indemnification from government. We welcome reports that they will also not implement the approved P2.00 per cubic mter water rate hike in January 2020,” Reyes said in a message to reporters.
“The onerous provisions in the water contract remains. These should be addressed next. There should also be greater public participation in the review of these contracts,” he added. The fight continues. Our mantra should be “Serbisyo hindi negosyo,” he added.
Just this Monday, Reyes’ Bayan and party-list group Bayan Muna filed a petition before the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) asking for the suspension of the tariff adjustment in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against the two companies.
Duterte’s words came after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore said that the Philippine government should pay P7.39 billion to Manila Water for losses it incurred from 2015 to 2019. Maynilad was also granted a same ruling in 2018, when the same court decided that the government should shell out P3.4 billion for interfering with its pricing.
Earlier, both concessionaires said they would not be implementing the latest tranche of rate hikes amid these issues.
“We have long opposed any award to these private concessionaires arising from international arbitration. This clearly violates our sovereignty and renders any government regulation meaningless and ineffective,” Reyes said. “This should serve as a warning to future governments on the pitfalls of privatization.”
“It is high time that corporate greed is checked. It is time to put a stop to sovereign guarantees on private profits. The two water concessionaires are among the most profitable companies in the country yet they still want to charge taxpayers billions because they think their profits are not enough. That is plain greed,” he added.
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