Former Pres. Ramos warns President Duterte over his action against water concession agreement: “Our word must be our bond”

Former President Fidel Ramos warned President Rodrigo Duterte over his actions against the water concession agreement entered by the government in 1997.

In a letter sent by Ramos to Duterte on December 4, Ramos vouched for the integrity of the said agreements which contradicted the current President claims that it’s “onerous”.

According to Ramos, the 1997 concession agreement and also the privatization of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) which is happened during his administration is designed to prevent a “water crisis” in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Ramos said that the agreement gave a sustainable supply of water to the residents of Metro Manila.

“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,” Ramos said.

The former President also said that the privatization of MWSS and the concession agreement is being followed by other countries because of its effectiveness.

“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,” Ramos said.

“These are the pillars that hold together any agreement, be it between governments and/or the government and the private sector. Our word must be our bond,” he added.

The privatization of MWSS was made to pass the financial burden of the government to the private sector and also to improve the water service to the people.

Ramos recalled that before its privatization, MWSS is facing difficulties in serving the people of Metro Manila.

He also said that they carefully planned the concession agreement which is currently being criticized by the President and other politicians.

“Before 1997, the MWSS was unable to fulfill its mandate, which resulted in poor service to the public, water loss of around 65 percent not to mention decades of underinvestment and mounting government debt in excess of $1 billion,” Ramos said.

“The MWSS concession agreement, as with all projects and agreements entered into by government during my administration, was 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 added.

Ramos supported Duterte in the last presidential election.

Last week, President Duterte criticized Maynilad and Manila Water and questioned the concession agreement signed in 1997 saying that the government has no power on the contract.

The President made the said remarks after an international tribunal ordered the government to pay billions of pesos to the water companies for interfering with the water prices.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the constitution allows the President to “temporarily take over” privately-owned utilities like Maynilad and Manila Water if necessary.

“Under the Constitution, the state may temporarily take over or direct the operations of privately owned public utilities or businesses affected with the public interest: in case of national emergency and when public interest requires it,” Guevarra said in a statement.

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