Maynilad warns future investments may be put on hold

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MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. said its current rift with the government over its water contract may likely impact future investments in its west zone concession.

Asked if the government’s move to review all contracts with companies including Maynilad may set a bad precedent for future investments, Maynilad Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on Thursday, “yes.”

Last week, President Rodrigo R. Duterte expressed through his spokesman that he wants a review of all government contracts with foreign and private firms, including water concessionaires.

Mr. Pangilinan said earlier this week that they were willing to drop the company’s arbitration proceedings against the government in exchange for a tariff settlement that compensates for lost revenues from 2013 to 2017.

Last year, the Singapore court ruled that the Philippine government must pay Maynilad P3.4 billion for failing to allow it to implement tariff adjustments as granted in its contract.

“It’s stipulated in the contractual arrangements. That was a right given to us under the contract, so we just exercised it… We won the arbitration first round, we won it the second round, they just ignored us,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

The government, through the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice, is currently reviewing the Maynilad contract.

Meanwhile, Maynilad said it will be conducting several water network enhancement activities during the Lenten break within Metro Manila’s west zone for projects that include facility maintenance works, pipe decommissioning, pipe interconnections, and valve replacements.

As a result, Maynilad said some of its customers in parts of Manila, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Quezon City, Parañaque, Pasay, Las Piñas, and Bacoor in Cavite will experience temporary water service interruptions.

“The duration of service interruptions will differ per area. Some will have no water for five hours only, while others will have no water for 30 hours,” Maynilad Water Supply Operations Head, Engr. Ronaldo C. Padua said in a statement on Thursday.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. These activities are being done so we can continue to improve the water infrastructure and ensure better water services for the long term,” he added.

The enhancement activities are in line with the water concessionaire’s continuous efforts to improve water services in the west zone.

Maynilad said the activities are scheduled during the Holy Week, when fewer customers are expected to be home. This will lessen the impact of service interruptions on water consumers.

“Besides these major activities, Maynilad will also take the opportunity to conduct smaller, parallel activities like leak detection and leak repairs, which would otherwise require the implementation of separate service disruptions,” the company said.

Maynilad advised its affected customers “to store water at least three days before the scheduled interruption to prevent simultaneous heavy withdrawals of water from its pipelines, which can reduce water pressure and cause some customers to have no water earlier than schedule.”

It said 40 water tankers are on standby and ready to deliver water to affected areas when needed.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez and Victor V. Saulon