Despite huge support from both the President and the general public, Senator Kiko Pangilinan is standing against revising the current water concessionaire contracts. Despite fact-finding reports deeming several provisions within these to be “onerous” and unjustly unfavorable to the public.
Pangilinan, who is President of the once-reigning Liberal Party, warned President Duterte against pursuing his “imposition” on Maynilad and Manila Water’s operations. According to the opposition senator, adopting new concession agreements with more favorable terms for consumers would be illegal.
Pangilinan said that President Duterte’s actions are a “terrible signal” to investors. He discouraged the government from the possibly “criminal behavior” of threatening the water firms to fix their act and stop abusing consumers.
Pangilinan further called upon the government’s economic managers, led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to “manage and correct the harm inflicted on the country’s investment climate brought about by such reckless and irresponsible public pronouncements.”
Whatever economic forecast Pangilinan is looking at seem to be as biased as the water contracts. The Philippine economy is actually objectively growing at a steady and competitive rate. Philippine’s Gross Domestic Product is predicted to expand by 6.5% in 2020. According to HSBC we’re set to outpace our regional and global peers within the next two years.
Though there was a slight slump in economic growth this year, due to the incredibly delayed passing of the 2019 national budget, the country is set to recover.
According to Dr. Henry Lim Bom Liong, President of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), the spike in tourism brought by our hosting of the 30th SEA Games, the recent acceleration of infrastructure plans, and new foreign investments are key factors driving GDP growth.
The 2020 budge has also been signed into law, just a few days into the new decade. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also served as Chairman of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), ensured that the House was united in passing a budget that was free from pork, parked funds, and delays.
President Duterte is now attempting to correct one of the largest systemic wrongs against the Filipino public. The unfavorable conditions in the water contracts, like preventing the government from setting rates and passing taxes on to consumers, meant that both Manila Water and Maynilad have been able to act with impunity. They have no incentive to improve their services and can barely be held liable for failing to properly serve the public.
The new contracts correct these long-overlooked issues and bring power back to the people. Should Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the new contracts, President Duterte is more than willing to step on a few more oligarch’s toes and have the government take over water operations.
President Duterte has also said that accepting the new contracts doesn’t buy freedom from prosecutions for the officials who were behind these provisions.
These people, the ones who orchestrated this unfair agreement in the firms place, are the real criminals. Senator Pangilinan is obviously protecting someone, and it’s not the public.