ADB will help in drafting new deal for Maynilad, Manila Water

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help in crafting a new concession agreement with water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a news forum in Manila on Wednesday, Guevarra bared that ADB consultants will guide the government in revising the deal which earlier contained alleged "onerous provisions."

The Department of Finance (DOF), which is also heavily involved in the negotiation, was the one who informed Guevarra of the latest development on the matter.

"Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez informed me that we will engage with certain consultants from the Asian Development Bank," Guevarra said.

Guevarra said a meeting was scheduled on Wednesday afternoon in Malacañang with the DOF to discuss the role of the ADB to assist in guiding the government in revising the economic and financial terms of the deal.

"As a matter of fact we're just waiting for the input of DOF in the revised contract. Sa legal and corporate side more or less alam na natin kung ano 'yung aalisin. Kahit ang water concessionaires alam na nila, ine-expect na nila 'yung tatanggalin with respect to the legal provisions," Guevarra said.

[Translation: As a matter of fact, we're just waiting for the input of DOF in the revised contract. In the legal and corporate side, more or less, we already know what will be removed. Even the water concessionaires themselves are expecting which parts will be taken out with respect to the legal provisions.]

The Justice Secretary said apart from the DOJ and the DOF, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the MWSS will also actively take part in the revision of contracts from the side of the government.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on January 8, Guevarra bared that they have only crafted a "matrix document" so far, stressing that the new deal will not be finished anytime soon.

READ: Gov’t seeks to finalize new water deals with Maynilad, Manila Water within 6 months – Guevarra 

"I dont' foresee anytime soon that we will be sitting down with the water concessionaires. I know that they are waiting. They can't comment, they can't react. Because that is true. We are still consolidating the draft. We are still waiting for the inputs of the DOF. So once we're able to do this, we'll present it to the President again before they take a look," the Justice Secretary added.

"Conservatively, the whole process may last six months," he admitted.

On January 7, Malacañang reiterated its warning of a government takeover if the two water firms do not cooperate with them under the pending deals.

READ: New contracts underway: Duterte threatens gov’t takeover of water services if Maynilad, Manila Water reject deal 

An international tribunal had earlier ordered the Philippine government to pay Manila Water ₱7.4 billion in losses stemming from rejected water rate hikes back in 2015. In a similar case in 2017, the government was ordered to reimburse ₱3.4 billion for Maynilad's losses.

But in December, the two water firms said they will no longer demand payment from the government arising from their arbitral tribunal win, after Duterte threatened to sue them.