Gov't to oppose enforcement of water arbitration suits ruling

Gov't to oppose enforcement of water arbitration suits ruling

MANILA, Philippines—The government will oppose the enforcement of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore which ordered the Philippines to indemnify water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad over P10 billion for losses they incurred due to the non-implementation of rate hikes.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the government is now looking at possible legal remedies to counter the ruling of the Singapore court after it upheld Maynilad and Manila Water’s claims and ordered the government to pay them P3.4 billion and P7.4 billion, respectively.

“The OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) is thinking of appealing this particular ruling to the Singapore High Court or when these decisions are enforced to local courts, then the Philippine government will surely oppose it on the ground that the arbitral ruling is against public policy,” Guevarra told reporters after an anti-corruption summit hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday.

Maynilad and Manila Water distribute water in Metro Manila and nearby provinces under agreements signed with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) during the Ramos administration in 1997.

But a DOJ review bared that a dozen of “onerous” provisions were stipulated in the deal, drawing the who ordered the crafting of a new water concession deal.

Guevarra said they are still forming the government team that would craft the new concession deal before they sit down with the water firms and discuss it.

He added that they are targeting to finish the draft of the government version before the year ends.

If water firms did not cooperate in the crafting of the new deal, Guevarra said: “We’ll go to court. We’ll have to go to court.”

After lashing out at the water firms’ owners and threatening to charge them with economic sabotage, Duterte announced he has no plans to pay the compensation to Manila Water and Maynilad.