Duterte offers new concession deals to Maynilad, Manila Water

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2020   •   463

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has offered water companies, Maynilad and Manila Water, new concession deals that will replace existing agreements with provisions that are allegedly disadvantageous to the government and the public, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president made the offer after the Department of Justice and Office of the Solicitor General presented the new contracts during their Cabinet meeting on Monday night.

Panelo said the new concession contracts do not contain the supposedly onerous provisions in the existing contracts which were signed in 1997.

“The Chief executive is giving the water concessionaires the option of accepting the new contracts without any guarantee of not being criminally prosecuted together with those who conspired to craft the very onerous contracts which are void ab initio for violating the constitution and the laws of the land,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

Should Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the new contracts, Panelo said Duterte will order the cancellation of their current concession deals, and prosecute all those behind the crafting of the 1997 water agreement.

He would also order for the nationalization of water services in their respective areas of operation.

“Should Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the new agreements, the Chief Executive will order the cancellation of their present water contracts, mandate the nationalization of water services in their respective areas of operation and prosecute all those involved, directly or indirectly, in the arrangement that led to the present suffering of the Filipino people,” Panelo said.

In a statement, Maynilad said it has yet to receive a copy of the revised agreement. It also gave reassurance of continuing cooperation amid its contract woes.

Manila Water has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Duterte did not provide a deadline to the water concessionaires about his offer.

The water firms’ woes came after Duterte assailed the two Metro Manila water concessionaires for allegedly taking advantage of the ‘onerous, lopsided’ contracts to “milk” Filipinos by the billions.

The chief executive earlier threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

But the two firms in December said they will no longer pursue the awards, and assured cooperation as the present government reviews the provisions in the agreements. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

MWSS, nagtakda na ng deadline sa pagbabayad ng water bill

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Nagtakda na ng deadline ang Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) para sa pagbabayad ng water bills na halos tatlong buwang naipon dahil sa ipinatutupad na community quarantine.

Sa panayam ng UNTV program na Serbisyong Bayanihan ngayong Miyerkules, sinabi ni MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Ty na mayroong hanggang Hulyo 31 para magbayad ng bill ang mga kumukonsumo ng 10 cubic meters pababa kada buwan.

Ang mga gumagamit naman ng tubig na mahigit sa 10 cubic meters kada buwan ay may palugit hanggang Agosto 31.

Pagpapauna ni Ty, asahan na ng mga consumer ang bahagyang pagtaas ng bill lalo’t panahon ngayon ng tag-init at marami ang nasa loob ng kani-kanilang mga tahanan kaya mataas ang konsumo sa tubig.

“Sana maintindihan natin, itong water bill na ito halos lahat sa mga consumer ay ito po yung water bill nila for March, April and May. During summer season din po ito, so mas mainit, mas madami ang consumption ng mga tao at alam natin since work from home halos lahat consumer,” aniya.

Nilinaw naman  ng opisyal na puwede namang utay-utayin ng mga consumer ang pagbabayad sa bill nila sa Manila Water at Maynilad.

Sinabi rin ni Ty na sa Hunyo 1 pa magsisimulang magbasa ng metro at maglalabas ng bill ang Maynilad at Manila Water.

Sa Agosto 1 naman sisimulan ng dalawang water concessionaires ang pamumutol sa serbisyo ng mga hindi makapagbabayad ng kanilang bill para sa mga kumu-konsumo ng 10 cubic meters pababa.

Setyembre 1 naman ang schedule ng service disconnection para sa mahigit 10 cubic meters ang konsumo bawat buwan.

Tiniyak naman ng MWSS na wala pa silang ipinatutupad na anumang adjustment sa singil ng tubig sa gitna ng umiiral na community quarantine.

“Importante sa atin na wala pong bills shock ayaw po natin na magulat ang ating mga consumers na bigla nalang lalaki ang kanilang water bill,” ani Ty. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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