Fidel V. Ramos, the former president, wrote a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte last December 4 justifying the 1997 water concession of his term for this country. According to the Inquirer report on Friday, on the said letter Ramos explained a lot of details on why the water supply during his time has been privatized and handed to two of the richest corporations of the country, Manila Water Co. Inc. by the Ayala group (east) and Maynilad Water Services Inc. of the Lopez group (west). However, later in 2008 the Pangilinan group’s Metro Pacific took over Maynilad.
According to Ramos, all of the government projects and agreements, including the 1997 water concession contract, during his term were completely legit and thoroughly investigated, processed, consulted or publicly scrutinized for transparency and genuine approval. Based on that letter, Ramos wrote:
“They were (government projects) anchored on complete staff work, review and consultation with various government agencies, organizations and the concerned public, which resulted in complete transparency all the while negotiating terms most favorable to government.”
He also added that during his administration, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) was incapable of fulfilling its mandate which caused more than $1 billion debt to the government and water loss of around 65 percent due to “decades of underinvestment” and other negligence. Ramos, confidently wrote on his letter boasting to Duterte that the water privatization and its concession agreements were considered a good example by other countries in Asia. He also stated on that letter:
“The success of this agreement has brought about an infusion of capital to upgrade the infrastructure necessary to improve the efficiency and service coverage to the end users. In Metro Manila alone, more than 18 million Filipinos (from only 10 million in 1997) now have access to sustainable water supply”.
The privatization of the MWSS came two years after the passage of Republic Act No. 8041, or the National Water Crisis Act of 1995. To transfer the financial responsibility of water supply, the MWSS was privatized. This, according to Ramos, has allowed services to improve it standards, become efficient, and minimize the impact of the tariff. This 25-year concession contracts was separated to 2 private conglomerates, with both local and international partners.
Ramos also added:
“To achieve all this, the private sector mobilized funding from both foreign and local sources depending on the word of the Philippine government that the essential conditions of adherence to the sanctity of contracts and rule of law must be observed”.
He was reacting to alleged threats by the two concessionaires to raise water rates “by 100 percent” after the MWSS decided on Dec. 5 to revoke the extension of their concession deals, which would end in 2022, to 2037. The renewal was approved in 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Meanwhile, regarding the alleged threats of the two concessionaires to raise the rates higher by 100% after the cancellation of the extension permit, which was renewed during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, presidential spokesperson Salavador Panelo stated last December 13, Friday:
“Manila Water and Maynilad “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. The concessionaires are put on notice that the Chief Executive will not renege on his constitutional duty of enforcing the law”.