MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday, February 5, that tycoon Enrique Razon Jr’s buy-in of a 25% stake in Manila Water will have no effect on the ongoing contract review of water concessionaires.
“No effect whatsoever. The concession agreement will be revised for the benefit of the consuming public, regardless of the ownership of the water company,” Guevarra told reporters on Wednesday.
Guevarra said the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be ready by March to hold discussions with concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad to begin the renegotiation stage.
“Inputs on the financial and commercial provisions are now being incorporated in the draft. Once consolidated, we may start discussions with the concessionaires in March,” Guevarra said.
The contract review by the DOJ was prompted by President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against water concessionaires over an allegedly onerous water contract.
The conflict roots from allegedly onerous provisions in the concession agreements, like the prohibition on government to interfere in rate-setting, and business taxes being passed on to consumers.
Razon bought the shares of Manila Water for P13 apiece or a total of P10.7 billion.
Aside from water, Razon also has business in electricity through the MORE Electric Power and Corporation.
Duterte granted MORE the franchise to provide power for Iloilo, bypassing the supposed renewal of the Panay Electric Company (PECO), which has been Iloilo’s power provider for 95 years.
The legal tussle between MORE and PECO has already reached the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com