Ownership won’t affect review of water concession deals: DOJ

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said the government's review of the contracts with water concessionaires to weed out onerous provisions will not be affected by changes in the corporate ownership of the firms.

"The review on concession agreement with water firms will be revised for the benefit of the consuming public, regardless of the ownership of the water companies," Guevarra told reporters.

This came amid reports of businessman Enrique Razon's move to buy a 25 percent share of the Ayala-controlled Manila Water on Monday.

Manila Water, which supplies water to Metro Manila's east zone, had announced plans to raise at least PHP9 billion ahead of the disclosure that Razon's Prime Metroline Holdings Inc. acquired 820 million shares in Manila Water at PHP13 per share.

The east zone covers 6 million people in Metro Manila, including Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and some parts of Quezon City and Manila and the Rizal towns of Angono, Antipolo, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililia, Rodriguez, San Mateo, Tanay, Taytay, and Teresa.

The DOJ earlier said it will work with consultants from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the revision of the terms of the new concession agreement to be presented to Maynilad and Manila Water.

Guevarra said the revision process may be completed within the year which is eyed to do away with lopsided arrangements unfavorable to consumers which include provisions that left consumers with no choice but to shoulder billions of pesos in corporate income taxes.

President Rodrigo earlier warned Manila Water and Maynilad officials of charges of economic sabotage against them for the onerous provisions of the 1997 contracts with the government.

The President made the remark after Guevarra disclosed that the justice department found the extension of these contracts to 2037 irregular, as its extension was granted 12 to 13 years before the original expiration of the 25-year concession agreements in 2022.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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