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DOJ to decide on water concession deal this month

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Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said the new water agreement with the Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) will be decided on before the end of this month.

“The government panel reviewing the water concession agreements (OP, DOF, DOJ, OSG, OGCC, and Vince Dizon of BCDA) wound up yesterday’s discussions on a new concession agreement with Manila Water Company, Inc.,” he noted.

The justice chief said the panel will present the final draft to MWCI in a few days following preliminary meetings with the utility company last month which resulted in key agreements on important financial and commercial terms.

“We hope to conclude a new and better agreement with MWCI before the end of the month. negotiations with Maynilad will follow thereafter,” stated Guevarra, also disclosing that the government’s new water concession contract with Ayala-led Manila Water Co., Inc. will soon be finalized.

He said in a televised press briefing saying they already ironed out major issues in their previous meeting.

Guevarra added both panels will have a meeting and surmised whatever minor points left to be sorted will be fixed in theor next meeting.

Talks with Maynilad Water Services, Inc., which holds the concession for the west zone of Metro Manila, on the other hand, will start after the deal with Manila Water is finalized, he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the DOJ to review the government’s concession agreements with the two water companies after discovering “onerous” provisions in the existing contracts. He also threatened to file a case of economic sabotage against them.

The directive came after an international arbitration court ruled that the Philippine government must pay Manila Water P7.4 billion and Maynilad P3.4 billion for losses incurred from unenforced water rate increases.

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