It was providential that President Rody Duterte would line up the faults of the water service firms during a congregation of Baptist ministers. This is similar to making his statements with God as his witness.
Rody repeated his demand for accountability from concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Corp. for devoting their contracts with the government to maximize profits, while totally neglecting their obligation of setting up facilities for wastewater treatment.
The cleaning up of Manila Bay is becoming frustrating for Rody since the pollution is coming from residents and establishments in Manila whose refuse goes straight to the capital city’s main body of water.
During the religious event on Thursday night, Rody said Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who chairs the Manila Bay Task Force, could never completely clean up the bay because of its continuous contamination.
“All he can do is (to) reduce the contamination,” the President noted.
With at least a 15 million population, Rody lamented that Manila does not have a proper water treatment facility. “Until now, all the wastewater is thrown every day to the Manila Bay,” he noted.
“The job (of properly disposing wastewater) was supposed to be done by the one who got the contract of water sewerage, which is the two companies,” Duterte said.
In January 2019, Rody ordered the massive cleanup of Manila Bay and for which he issued Administrative Order 16.
The President made sure the two opportunistic water firms would be placed in their proper places as negotiations for the new contracts would start rolling as he revealed former spokesman Harry Roque will be one of the state lawyers to face Maynilad and Manila Water.
The negotiations would not free those responsible for the onerous terms of the contracts as Rody expressed determination to go after them.
“I will reveal who are they, so that you can ask them, including Ayala (Manila Water chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala) and Pangilinan (Maynilad chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan): why did you do this to us?” Duterte asked.
Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corp. owns a controlling stake in Maynilad, while Manila Water is a subsidiary of the Ayala Corp.
Rody has given the water concessionaires two options, which was to accept the new water contracts or face cancellation of their deals.
To be removed as provisions of the deal are the numerous pass-on expenses that water users pay for in their monthly bills and the guarantee that the government will not intervene in the setting of rates.
To ensure that the new contract would be equitable to both government and the private firms and at the same time remove doubts in the business sector, consultants from the Asian Development Bank will be commissioned in the revision of the terms.
The aim is to have a deal in which the Filipino consumers will derive the most benefit from.
The water firms failed to temper their greed that resulted to their current predicament of potentially losing a lucrative engagement with government on the provision of water.
Consider the fact that the onerous terms of the contracts were the basis for the P11 billion that the Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the government should compensate for reneging on the terms of the deal.
Where else can one find such opportunism?