MANILA Philippines – Two of the country’s largest water concessionaires apologized and even offered to waive altogether billions of uncollected and unimplemented rate hikes of five years still, the Palace and Senator Bong Go seem unmoved with the former saying it “would study the offer” even as the latter promised to go on with a thorough senate inquiry into alleged onerous contracts of the water firms.
During a Senate inquiry, Go berated both Manila Water and Maynilad, decidedly PH’s major water concessionaires, for allegedly “burdening the people with onerous contracts and poor service.”
In a privilege speech, Go vowed to take an active role in the investigation of the water agreements because the senator said, for decades “rich and powerful oligarchs” bought and influenced their way to the “juiciest and most lucrative sectors of our economy.”
“Okay lang po sana kung napapalitan nila ito ng maayos at dekalidad na serbisyo para sa taumbayan, subalit, tila ginagatasan, pinapahirapan at inuuto pa nila ang mamamayan at ang pamahalaan (This would have been acceptable had they delivered quality service to the people. However, it seems that they’re milking and defrauding the public and the government),” Go said.
“Iyan po ang ginagawa ng Manila Water [Co. Inc.] at Maynilad [Water Services Inc]. Ginigipit nila ang mga mamamayan gamit ang tubig — isang bagay na kailangan natin upang mabuhay at ginagamit natin araw-araw sa marami at mahalagang mga Gawain, Go added.
And with it, the senator promised further senate inquiries and thorough investigation of the water firms’ unfair contracts and “diversionary measures and delaying tactics.”
“There must be a thorough and expeditious investigation on the matter at hand, which [are] the onerous contracts. Those who are involved in these anomalies must be held accountable. The unjust provisions of the contracts must be dealt with properly. If proven to be totally unfair, the contracts must be quashed,” Go said.
“I will take an active role in these investigations because things like this must never happen again. Government officials must always serve the interest of the people and never collude with the rich few in oppressing the poor masses,” the senator added. “Who negotiated and executed these agreements? Sino ang gumawa (Who did this)? Why did these provisions escape scrutiny?”
Senator Go also said the water concessionaires should answer allegations that they billed their customers in advance for P56 billion worth of projects that have yet to be finished.
“We have reports that a total of P56 billion have been billed in advance to Filipino people for water projects. What happened to these projects? Ibig sabihin nagbabayad ang mga Pilipino sa mga proyektong hindi pa napapakinabangan (It means that Filipinos are paying for non-existing useless projects)?” Go said.
“Is it true that you have passed on the burden of paying your income tax to the public? What is your basis for doing this? Binigyan naman kayo ng income tax holiday. Hindi pa ba ‘yun sapat (You were granted income tax holiday, is it not enough)?”
The senator said that while President Rodrigo Duterte was willing to sit down and talk, he would not tolerate those who abuse the rights of the people.
“Kilala ko po ang Pangulo. Handa siyang humarap upang pag-usapan ang anumang problema, ngunit wala siyang patawad sa mga manggagantso,” Go said.