MWSS: For now, we need Manila Water, Maynilad
MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) admitted it cannot efficiently provide water to Metro Manila without embattled concessionaires Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water.
Answering questions from House Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay Jr, MWSS Deputy Administrator for Engineering Leonor Cleofas said the agency does not have the manpower to provide potable drinking water to the entire Metro Manila on its own.
"Sa ngayon po, Mr Chair, napakaliit po ng aming empleyado. Mahigit 100 lang po.... Sa ngayon po, kung existing resources, hindi po kaya," Cleofas said during a House hearing on Wednesday, December 11.
(Right now, Mr Chair, we only have a few employees. They are a little over 100 only.... Right now, given the existing resources, we can't do it.)
Pichay, who is also Surigao del Sur 1st District congressman, then said the government should allot enough funds for water services, a basic human right recognized by the United Nations.
"Ang tubig po ay hindi ninenegosyo 'yan kasi karapatang pantao 'yan. It was declared by the United Nations in 2010, if I'm not mistaken. So talagang kailangan, kung wala 'yung two concessionaires, ang ating pamahalaan ay kailangan talagang maglaan ng pondo," said Pichay.
(Water should not be a commodity because that's a human right. It was declared a human right by the United Nations in 2010, if I'm not mistaken. So if the two concessionaires would be removed, the government needs to allocate funds for this.)
The MWSS used to provide water to Metro Manila in the mid-1990s. But there were rotational water shortages, as the MWSS simply could not keep up with the demand.
This eventually led to the privatization of the sector starting in 1997, with Manila Water taking over the water supply in the East Zone and Maynilad covering the West Zone. (READ: Public interest, private hands: How Manila Water, Maynilad got the deal)
In the same hearing on Wednesday, Cleofas told lawmakers that the MWSS already revoked the board resolution that would have extended the concession agreement with Maynilad and Manila Water to 2037, from the original 2022.
This was in response to the "directive" of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was outraged after separate arbitral rulings ordered the Philippine government to pay P7.39 billion to Manila Water and P3.4 billion to Maynilad for the non-implementation of rate hikes.
Maynilad president Ramoncito Fernandez and former Manila Water president Tony Aquino said they found out about the cancellation of the concession agreement extension only on Wednesday morning. – Rappler.com