‘Duterte has all legal options’ on water firms’ rate hike bid

WATER rates may increase by over 100% after the cancellation of Maynilad and Manila Water’s concession agreement extensions since President Rodrigo Duterte has all the legal options at his disposal, Malacañang reminded on Friday, December 13.

The water firms’ agreements with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) was supposed to end in 2037, but due to the revocation, they will now expire in 2022.

“These concessionaires can do their worst and continue with fleecing the consumers while the president will do his best in serving and protecting the interest of the people,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.

He also cited the water concessionaires’ separate letters addressed to Duterte offering not to implement the approved new water rates after the President’s denouncement of the “onerous” provisions of the 1997 water deal.

Panelo added that Duterte is still studying the issue and has yet to accept or decline the water firms’ offer.

“All legal options are open to him,” he said.

Panelo also reminded that Duterte is a lawyer and a public prosecutor for many years, “hence knowledgeable on the provisions of the anti-graft law.”

“An examination of the latter reveals that the contracts are on all fours with it. Stated differently, the agreements violate every prohibited act of the law,” he said.

According to Panelo, Duterte will not renege from his constitutional duty of enforcing the law.

“Neither will he be swayed nor enticed into accepting a compromise. Dura lex sed lex (The law is harsh, but it is the law),” he said.

“Water is a natural resource and access to it by the people is a basic human right, and constitutionally protected as well. Any measure therefore in derogation of this right requires government intervention,” he added. 

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