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.