MALACAÑANG said it is considering the possibility of taking water services for Metro Manila back under government control.

In a briefing Tuesday, the President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said that the government is studying its options on control of water services.

Mr. Panelo was asked to comment on Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri J. Colmenares’s statement on Monday that the handling of water services in Metro Manila, which is currently handled by concession holders Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc., should be returned to the government following the failure of both companies to address the water crisis.

Mr. Panelo said, “Pinag-aaralan lahat ng makakabuti sa mga kababayan natin. Lahat iyan ay kasama sa pag-aaral (We are studying what would be best for everyone. We are considering all options.)”

Pinag-aaralan lahat ng mga pupuwedeng gawin (Everything that can be done is under study) to solve the problem,” he added.

The Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC), various government agencies, and water concessionaires met recently to tackle possible contingency measures to address the worsening water shortage in Metro Manila and other areas.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and concurrent MMDRRMC chairman Danilo D. Lim has said that trucks of Maynilad and Manila Water are still exempt from the number coding scheme in order to facilitate the delivery of water supplies to areas that may be affected.

The House Committee on Metro Manila Development recommended in a committee report it submitted on June 3 that both the administrative and regulatory offices of the MWSS revisit the concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water and introduce amendments as necessary, “particularly on the sanctions that can be imposed upon the concessionaires when they fail to sufficiently supply water or fail to comply with the terms of the Concession Agreement.”

Another recommendation by the Committee is for the government to “break the duopoly in water supply service in Metro Manila and welcome more players to increase competition in the water supply industry which shall thus encourage better and more transparent services.” — Arjay L. Balinbin