House of Representatives

House OKs franchises for Manila Water, Maynilad

Rambo Talabong
House OKs franchises for Manila Water, Maynilad

LEGISLATION. The House of Representatives in session.

House of Representatives

Opposition lawmakers, however, question the 'rushed' passage of the bills

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, August 3, approved on third and final reading bills that seek to give 25-year franchises for water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.

With 206 affirmatives, the House voted to pass House Bills No. 9422 and 9423. Seven lawmakers voted against, saying that the bills’ passage at the lower chamber was “rushed.”

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Under the proposed laws, Manila Water would continue to serve the east of Metro Manila while Maynilad would continue to serve the west of the capital region.

The bills also allow the concessionaires to continuously establish, operate, and maintain waterworks in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

The bills were passed after the concessionaires signed respective deals with the government that categorized them as public utilities, explaining the need for a congressional franchise.

Was it rushed?

Opposition lawmakers questioned the swift passage of the bills in comparison to how the House scrutinized and eventually thumbed down the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest broadcaster.

Tila naging rubberstamp lang ang Kongreso dahil sa bilis na ipinasa ng mga bagong prangkisa ng Maynilad at Manila Water na hindi man lang dumaan sa mabusising deliberasyon,” said Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate.

(It seemed like Congress became a rubberstamp because of the swift passage of the new franchises for Maynilad and Manila Water without even go through thorough deliberation.)

Compared to the 13 hourslong hearings that it spent scrutinizing ABS-CBN’s franchise bill, the House committee on legislative franchises approved the franchise bills for the water concessionaires after just one committee hearing.

Opposition lawmakers argued that Congress needs to comb through the concession deals that the concessionaires signed with the government in 2021.

The concession deals have not been released to the public, with most of the publicly-released information coming from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.