Guevarra dismisses possibility of new water concessionaires coming in

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2019 08:08 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2019 09:15 PM

MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the government was not entertaining new players in the country's water distribution business, amid the government’s review of water concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water.
 
“No. We are not even thinking about that. We are still considering them. We are just renegotiating their contracts,” he told reporters.

The Department of Justice earlier said it found 12 onerous provisions in the concession agreements and advised President Rodrigo Duterte to scrap old contracts and rescind the agreement extending their validity.

But Guevarra clarified, the concession agreements still stand unless no agreement is reached with the 2 water concessionaires.

“So if we don’t have any agreement then we have to go to court para 'yun rescission may be actually done,” he explained. 
 
“But only then will we open the field to other competitors. Di naman kaagad na di magkasundo, open na to third parties di naman ganun (It’s not the case that if we don’t agree, we will be open to third parties. It doesn’t work that way.),” he said.

Guevarra said the DOJ is drafting the Philippine government’s side of the contract and hopes to finish it by month-end.

“When that is done, we will present it to the Cabinet meeting in early January. Kung ok na sa (if okay with the) Cabinet, then that is the time that we could call the private concessionaires to a meeting. So we don’t know when exactly that meeting will be that’s got to be after the Cabinet meeting.”

What is certain, the justice chief added, is that they will remove the onerous provisions. 

“Now, kung meron kami idadagdag, well that is subject matter of an on-going study. Kung meron kami modifications, in others, like sa rate setting mechanism that has to be studied, corporate income tax na nakapaloob dun sa water charges, those are things that we need to consider,” he said.

(Now if there’s something we would like to add, well that is subject matter of an on-going study. If we have modifications, in others, like rate setting mechanism that has to be studied, corporate income tax that is included in the water charges, those are things that we need to consider.)

Guevarra assured the public DOJ will not allow water concessionaires to “hostage” consumers with a lack of water supply come summer next year.

He also said the Cabinet is now talking about potential new sources of water to avoid supply shortage.