Manila Water signs new concession deal with gov't

Manila Water entered into a new concession agreement with the Philippine government, calling it a "significant milestone" on Wednesday, March 31.

Details of the agreement, however, have yet to be disclosed.

Manila Water only said it will continue to implement its "Service Improvement Plan that will ensure sustainability of water supply" and improve its wastewater and sanitation services for customers in the East Zone.

Earlier on Wednesday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced that the deal had been reached with Manila Water.

"The new concession agreement with Manila Water has been signed by the parties. The panel will start discussions with Maynilad after the Holy Week," Guevarra said.

The justice secretary also did not elaborate on the new deal, but noted that it is "a lot more equitable than the original one."

Manila Water, as well as West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, came under scrutiny in 2019, when Metro Manila experienced a water crisis.

It was also around this time that the companies won separate arbitration cases against the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte questioned "onerous" provisions of their agreements, particularly those that gave the companies a guarantee in earnings from their investments, as well as a non-interference clause, which barred the government from the rate-setting mechanism.

Guevarra could not say whether the government would no longer pursue criminal charges against executives behind the old contracts, which were crafted in 1997.

"I can't say with any certainty if the government will still pursue any legal action arising from the old agreement. There are many factors to consider," he said.

Shares of Manila Water closed higher by 1.1% on Wednesday. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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