MANILA – Water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad on Tuesday said they would no longer ask the government to pay them more than PHP10-billion they got in the arbitral award as compensation for losses and damages in the non-implementation of water rate hikes a few years ago.
Manila Water president and chief executive officer (CEO) Jose Almendras on Tuesday said, during a hearing by the House Good Government and Public Accountability, that the water company would cooperate with the government by not collecting the award recently made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore in the water concessionaire’s case.
“Susunod po kami sa kagustuhan ng gobyerno at ng Pangulo (We will comply with the wishes of the government and the President),” Almendras said.
Almendras also said Manila Water would delay the implementation of its approved water rate increase, which was originally scheduled for January 2020.
Almendras said the company has already written the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) regarding its intention to cooperate with the agency to reach an agreement regarding the implementation and delay in the water rate hikes.
Furthermore, Manila Water is “more than willing” to discuss the onerous provisions in the concession agreement.
“Tumutugon kami sa utos ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na muling pag-aralan at pag-usapan ang ilang provision ng mga concession agreement (We will comply with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to review and discuss certain provisions in the concession agreement),” Almendras said.
For his part, Maynilad President and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez said they would also no longer pursue the government to pay the PHP3.4 billion arbitral award by the same Singaporean court due to the Philippines’ refusal to allow it to increase prices for 2013 to 2017.
“Sang-ayon po kami sa direktiba ng presidente… na wag na po naming habulin yung historical arbitral award sa amin (We will comply with the President’s directive… not to pursue the historical arbitral award),” Fernandez said.
Fernandez, meanwhile, said they are open to delaying their scheduled water rate hike.
“Kami po ay bukas mag-delay. Pumapayag po kami mag-delay, kailangan lang pag-usapan ang timing at ano yung mga provisions (We are open to delay [the water rate hike]. We agree with the delay, but we just have to discuss the timing and the provisions),” Fernandez said.
The MWSS approved Maynilad and Manila Water’s rate increase petition in 2018.
For Maynilad, the approved rate increase is PHP5.73 per cubic meter which will be applied on a staggered basis for five years or until 2022. On the other hand, Manila Water had been allowed a rate hike of PHP6.22 to PHP6.50 per cubic meter.
However, because the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has yet to increase Metro Manila’s water allocation, water service interruption is still to be experienced by Maynilad and Manila Water consumers despite the expected rate hike. (PNA)