Original water deals expiring in 2022 must be respected

Original water deals expiring in 2022 must be respected

MANILA, Philippines—   Senator  Aquilino  “Koko” Pimentel III urged the government on Monday to respect the original contracts with the Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. that would expire in 2022.

The water concessions, however, were extended until 2037 during the time of then President  Gloria  Macapagal-Arroyo.

But for Pimentel, a lawyer,  the extension is not implementable since the original  deal has not expired yet.

“Mayroon bang nag e-extend  sa gitna ng original lifetime nung kontrata? (Is there an extension in the middle of the original  lifetime  of the contract?)” he asked  in an interview at the Senate.

“At any rate, balik ako sa basic principle, since hindi  pa expired ang original contract, wala pang 2022, hindi pa pwedeng i-invoke ang extension kung talagang extension yan.”

(At any rate,  I will go back to the basic principle, since the original contract has not expired yet, it’s not 2022 yet, that extension can’t be invoked yet.)

And since the extension could not be implemented yet, he said, the Duterte administration may still disregard it.

“2019 na ngayon, so irespeto na lang yung original  kontrata hanggang 2022,”  Pimentel said.

(It’s already 2019, so let’s just respect  the original contract until 2022.)

The senator though declined to say if the agreement signed during the Arroyo administration was illegal or not.

“No, all I’m trying to say that the extension can be disregarded by the present administration because although pirmado (signed), it’s not yet being implemented, it’s not implementable because we’re still 2019, within the lifetime of the original contract,” he explained.

He said  the government should make it clear if they would disregard or revoke the extension but it should honor the existing agreement up to  2022.

But even before its expiration, Pimentel  said the administration   could  begin its search for a new water concession  by 2020.

President Rodrigo Duterte  has threatened to revoke the alleged  onerous water  supply deals  and   to Manila Water.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore earlier ordered the Philippine government to pay the Manila Water P7.39 billion to compensate it for losses suffered between June 2015 to November 2019 for the non-implementation of water rate hikes.

It likewise ordered the government to pay Maynilad P3.4 billion due to the to allow it to increase prices from 2013 to 2017.