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Iloilo City council grants water distribution franchise to Lucio Tan firm

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Iloilo River Esplanade
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ILOILO CITY’S Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) has approved another water distribution franchise, this time to New Earth Water System, Inc. (NEWS), a subsidiary of Lucio Tan-controlled Boracay Tubi System, Inc.

The NEWS franchise is the fourth from the city council, after South Balibago Resources, Inc. (SBRI), the Villar group’s Prime Water Infrastructure Corp, and the joint venture between the Ayala’s Manila Water Philippine Ventures, Inc. (MWPV) and Tubig Pilipinas Group, Inc. (TPGI).

The city’s main water supplier, Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD), has filed cases in court against the Iloilo City government, SBRI, and Prime Water questioning the council’s authority to grant a franchise.

“There are a lot of water suppliers who want to do business here in the city, that simply shows that MIWD cannot meet the demands of water consumers,” said Councilor Plaridel C. Nava II, chair of the committee on public utilities.

Mr. Nava said NEWS will be the last water concessionaire to be granted a franchise, at least until the city can review the performance of the companies.

“I think this will be the last. I discussed this with other members of the SP. I want to see first the start of the operations of the Prime Water and Manila Water,” he said.




MIWD Legal Counsel Roy M. Villa said the district does not plan on filing more cases for now, and will wait until after the May 13 midterm elections, where local government positions are up for voting.

“Just (based on) the previous water franchises issued by the SP, legal action may be undertaken against the issuance and the responsible city officials. But, we will wait for the result of the elections. What can be achieved by legal means may be achieved by political means,” Mr. Villa said in a text message. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo