Press Release
September 14, 2021

Poe: Water franchises must ensure better services

Sen. Grace Poe brought before the plenary for deliberation two proposed water franchises that assure the people's access to safe water and improved services especially during the pandemic.

"With the grant of this franchise, nawa'y tuluyan nang dumaloy ang ginhawa at maramdaman ng bawat Pilipino ang 'care in every drop'," the chairperson of the Senate committee on public services said in her sponsorship speech of the Maynilad and Manila Water franchise bills.

"We are for the continuity of water services and we have continuously reiterated to our concessionaires our expectation for a better water provider in the new normal," she added.

The two water concessionaires have been granted concession agreements in 1997 for the delivery of water and sewerage services.

At present, Maynilad is servicing the West Zone of Metro Manila and the Province of Cavite, while Manila Water is servicing the East Zone of Metro Manila and the Province of Rizal.

Last March 31 and May 18, 2021, Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively, signed a Revised Concession Agreement (RCA) which removes the contentious provisions found in the 1997 contract and included provisions beneficial to the consumers.

Poe pointed out that the RCA designates the two water concessionaires as public utilities, thus they need a congressional franchise to operate.

Poe said that under the new agreement, there shall be a tariff freeze until December 2022. The concessionaires are also required to provide alternative water supply to their customers in case of service interruption.

"Sa ilalim ng bagong kasunduan, walang pagtaas sa presyo ng tubig sa NCR hanggang Disyembre ng susunod na taon," she said.

"Ang mga concessionaire ay kinakailangang magkaroon ng alternatibong water supply tuwing may scheduled interruption. Kung ito naman ay biglaan, kailangan ay maibalik ang supply ng tubig anim na oras matapos ang notice, at dapat ay may updates sa mga consumers ukol sa progreso nito," she added.

Poe said that failure to comply with these measures will penalize or fine the concessionaires and may be considered as cause for termination of the contracts.

"This is the first time this Committee under my chairmanship will be granting a franchise to a water concessionaire. So for good measure, apart from the House bill transmitted to us, we made use only of the standard provisions in franchises that we have already deliberated and passed on the floor," Poe said.

This includes the standard provision on 'Responsibility to the Public' highlighting the concessionaire's responsibility to comply with all of its obligations, and to incorporate public participation in its service.

The franchise will also be subject to revocation for failure to operate continuously for two years.

"We recognize that the grant of franchise is just part of a bigger solution to the water problems in the country, and that there is still a need to tap and develop new water sources, improve water supply, distribution and sewerage systems, and further educate people on water conservation and climate change," Poe said.

"Kapag naisabatas, isa itong malaking hakbang tungo sa ating pangarap para sa ating bansa at sa lahat ng Pilipino na magkaroon ng mura at sapat na suplay ng malinis at maiinom na tubig sa lahat ng oras," Poe added.

Poe also earlier filed Senate Bill 123 or the proposed Water Regulatory Act to rationalize the economic as well as administrative regulation of water utilities through an independent, quasi-judicial body called the Water Regulatory Commission.

Among its functions are to set the policy for water supply, sewerage and septage management; issue and licenses; set, review and approve rates; review and suspend contracts; initiate investigations on erring officials through its quasi-judicial nature; review and revoke issuances, memoranda and the like.

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