MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has threatened to fire officials of state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and terminate the contracts of its two water concessionaires if they failed to properly explain the reason for the water shortage problem in Metro Manila.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President, in delivering a 40-minute monologue, was “obviously outraged” in his meeting with MWSS, officials of water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, in Malacañang on Tuesday night.
“In a stern message delivered without even once looking at the officials, the obviously outraged President threatened to fire the MWSS officials and terminate the concessionaires’ contracts,” Panelo said in a statement on Wednesday.
Panelo said the President also ordered MWSS and the two water concessionaires to submit a report on the water shortage before April 7.
“The meeting which was more of a presidential monologue lasting for about 40 minutes abruptly ended by the President ordering the officials to submit a report on the water shortage before April 7, after which he will decide whether heads will roll or whether the contracts of the concessionaires will be terminated,” he added.
According to Panelo, the President refused to listen to their explanations tagging them as “just plain excuses” for neglecting their jobs to provide water services in Metro Manila.
“The Chief Executive told them he was not going to listen to their explanation as to why there was a water shortage as such would be just plain excuses. They simply did not do their job,” Panelo said.
Moreover, Panelo said the officials knew of the problem leading to the stoppage of the flow of water but “they did not resolve to prevent it from happening.”
“’All they care about is get profit from the water of the people’ and to their sufferance as well. The President told them they could have simply anticipated such shortage and could have done something about it,” Panelo said.
“They had to wait for him to threaten them with personally rushing to Manila from Davao to grapple with the crisis before they moved to end it. The Chief Executive bluntly told them to ‘shape up or ship out!’” he added.
Panelo, meanwhile, said the President also expressed hope that at the end of the day the water crisis “was not just a matter of common sense.”
He emphasized that the President will not think twice about taking actions to secure the people from discomfort “regardless of the dire consequences to the players of the water industry.”
The water shortage started affecting residents in Metro Manila in the second week of March with some areas having their water supply completely cut off.
Reports showed that some public hospitals have even limited admissions and started to get water supply from tankers.
Both chambers of the Congress have also held probes to look into the water shortage issue and mulled the filing class suit against Manila Water for its alleged “negligence”.
MWSS said the shortage is due to the increase in population, demand of consumers, on top of the early onslaught of the dry season but admitted government is partly to blame.
Manila water provides water to the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and Pateros; most parts of Quezon City, portions of Manila, and some towns of Rizal province.
Meanwhile, Maynilad provides water to some parts of Quezon City, Makati, Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon, and some cities and towns of Cavite province.
Both concessionaires get water from the Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan, which provides around 96 percent of water to Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal. (PNA /