Careful review of water concession agreements needed – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, December 15, favored a careful review of the country's water concession agreements with Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services. 

Robredo's statement comes after Manila Water and Maynilad said they would no longer implement arbitration rulings which would compel the government to pay the companies over cases on water rates.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System's (MWSS) later canceled a water concession extension with the two companies. 

On her Sunday radio show, Biserbisyong Leni, Robredo noted how the arbitration case was not brought up or addressed much earlier during the Duterte administration, which she said Palace officials should have likely known about at the start of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in 2016.

Robredo said that she supported a review of the water concession agreements, but it should be done carefully to avoid "collateral damage," such as investors' confidence in doing business in the Philippines. 

"Halimbawa, pinapakita ngayon na iyong bagsak sa stock market, ang laki. Dalawa sa pinakamaaapektuhan nito iyong SSS saka GSIS dahil sa kanila ang investments doon," Robredo said.

(For instance, right now it's shown the stock market has dropped. Two of the most affected parties would the be the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System because investments are made in them.)

Robredo added: "Dahil sa pagdesisyon ng pabigla-bigla, ano iyong message na binibigay nito sa mga investors? Dati nang bagsak iyong ating foreign direct investments. Kapag nakita ng mga investors na dito pala sa atin walang kasiguraduhan iyong mga kontrata, tingin ba natin maeengganyo ba sila?" 

(Because of sudden decision-making, what is the message being sent to investors? Our foreign direct investments were already low. If investors see there's no assurance in their contracts, do you think they'd be enticed to invest?) 

Earlier this month, Duterte threatened to scrap government's concession agreements with Manila Water and Maynilad, after Manila Water won its arbitration case against the government for preventing it from raising water rates in violation of the concession agreement. – Rappler.com