Press Release
September 1, 2021

Grace Poe's opening statement transcript
Senate Committee on Public Services
Sept. 1, 2021

Sa panahon ng pandemya, ang tubig ay mahalaga. According to the World Health Organization, access to safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions are essential in protecting one's health during the pandemic.

With such a finite resource and an ever-increasing population, water shortage has always been a threat to health and economy globally. In the Philippines, the looming water crisis is characterized by constant supply interruption, lack of potable water, and higher water rates.

Today, we will tackle the franchise application of two water concessionaires--Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc.--in the hopes of urgently addressing these pressing water supply and distribution issues.

Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. came into picture when the government was unable to meet the water demand in the country. Through a concession agreement in 1997, we entrusted the delivery of water and sewerage services to these private companies.

We are already familiar with these two companies at maaaring karamihan sa atin ay customers nila. Therefore, as end users, we can make qualified judgment if these applicants are deserving of a franchise. Nevertheless, we have invited several resource persons and stakeholders to assist us in making this call.

In this hearing, we want to understand how the recently revised concession agreements and the grant of a congressional franchise will be beneficial to the consuming public. Hindi na ba kami mawawalan ng tubig? Kumusta naman kaya ang magiging rates ng pagbayad namin sa tubig? Magmumura ba o kung magmamahal man, ano ang dahilan? Malinis ba ang maiinom naming tubig? Makakaasa ba kami na gaganda ang serbisyo?

We also want to know what is our guarantee that these commitments will be fulfilled. Madaling mangako pero mahirap tuparin. We need to ensure that safeguards are in place with the hope of not repeating the mistakes of the past. Ang hirap mawalan ng tubig lalo na sa panahon ngayon.

We also want updates from Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System on the master plan and the progress of developing new water sources to augment supply and meet the increasing demand for water. Huwag gamiting dahilan ang pagtaas ng populasyon, o ang summer o El Niño for the lapses in service. These are unavoidable realities which we should prepare for.

We always remind applicants that the grant of a franchise is not a right, but a privilege which carries immense responsibility. Serbisyo muna bago prangkisa. Naging maayos ba ang serbisyo nitong nakaraang dalawang dekada?

We are for the continuity of water services but we expect a good provider in the new normal under these revised concession agreements. We can't just always appease our countrymen and say 'dadaloy din ang ginhawa' (Maynilad's repair statement). We want to experience that 'care in every drop' (Manila Water's slogan).

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