East zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc. said it is open to discuss a new concession agreement with the government following the tirades of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File
Maynilad open to changes in concession agreement
(Philstar.com) - December 5, 2019 - 12:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — West zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc. is open to possible changes in its concession agreement with the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to draft a new contract with water concessionaires after accusing them of "screwing" Filipinos.

Malacañang announced that the president also ordered the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the government's deals with Maynilad and east zone concessionaire Manila Water.

In an interview with ANC's "Headstart" Thursday morning, Maynilad Chief Operating Officer Randy Estrellado pointed out that the government's Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System decide on the tariffs.

"We are open to discussing the contract. We haven't seen anything yet, but we're willing to sit down and look at the concession agreement," Estrellado said in the television interview.

Duterte's directive to craft a new concession agreement with water firms days after Singapore's Permanent Court of Arbitration ordered the Philippine government to pay P7.39 billion to Manila Water for losses incurred from rejected water hikes since June 2015.

Estrellado stressed the need for the government to immediately talk with the water concessionaires as it would affect the companies in the future.

"Any company that will not recover all of its expenses from revenues will lose money," the Maynilad COO said.

Manila Water, meanwhile, said it was willing to compromise with the government on the implementation of the arbitral award.

The Ayala-led water concessionaire said it would have to cooperate with the Duterte administration to come up with a "workable solution" to the arbitral award.

Malacañang accused the water concessionaires of abusing its agreement with the government, making the distribution of water a money-making venture instead of treating it as public service.

"It is indisputable that water is intended for the use, enjoyment and welfare of the citizens. The use and delivery of water is impressed with public interest hence it is but a privilege and therefore must not be abused," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Wednesday. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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