Manila Water: Arbitral award stems from breaches committed by previous admins, not Duterte’s

(Eagle News) — The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore ordering the Philippine government to indemnify Manila Water for losses incurred due to a refusal to allow the concessionaire to implement rate increases was for breaches committed by officials of the previous administrations, not the present one.

This is according to Manila Water, which issued a statement a day after President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to take to court the people behind the allegedly  contracts between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the water concessionaire and Maynilad that he said were disadvantageous to the government.

The President issued the statement after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra presented what he said were onerous provisions in the contracts that include the clause banning the government from interfering in setting rates, and the extension of the agreements themselves during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Guevarra, who had been tasked to conduct a review of the pacts at the height of the water shortage in March, said the contracts were supposed to expire in 2022, but they were extended for another 15 years in 2009, several years before they were set to lapse.

Earlier, the PCA in Singapore ordered the Philippine government to pay Manila Water P7.39 billion for the concessionaire’s losses from June 1, 2015 to November 22, and the amounts paid to the PCA and 85 percent of other claimed costs.

According to Manila Water, when it received the information about the award, its chairman and a few other senior officers of the company “sought guidance and met with (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez before it became public.”

“We informed him that we are willing to come up with a mutually acceptable manner of implementation of the arbitral award considering that this case was filed due to a violation incurred not during this administration. Secretary Dominguez acknowledged our proposal to work very closely with his office to find a mutually acceptable scheme to address the award,” Manila Water said.

“We wish to reiterate that Manila Water is more than willing and have started to work with the incumbent administration to come up with a workable solution to the arbitration decision,” it added.