By Bernadette Tamayo /Manila Times
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go over the weekend said that water concession agreements between the government and concerned firms should be fair to Filipinos.
The senator made the remark after a Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration recently ordered the Philippine government to pay P7.3bn in compensation to Manila Water Co Inc, after the government rejected water rate increases since 2015.
Go said that water concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water should fulfil their obligations to provide regular and safe water to their customers.
“Every Filipino owns the water they (water concessionaires) distribute,” he said when he visited typhoon victims in Gubat, Sorsogon. “It so happened that they won the water concession contract. The contract must be fair to every Filipino,” he said.
“And then we were made to pay the taxes even if the service sucks. They must fulfil what they had promised in the contract and not pass the burden to the people,” he added.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian agreed with Go, saying in a radio interview yesterday that “four or five years ago, these concessionaires passed the (burden of their) corporate income tax to their consumers.”
“For me, this is unfair because even small businesses like small salon or store, if your sales are high, you will pay income tax. That is your obligation as a businessman,” Gatchalian said.
“It (contract) must be renegotiated and legal actions must be done to make the concession agreement fair to all,” Gatchalian said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to file charges of economic sabotage against Manila Water and Maynilad.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) said it had discovered “onerous” provisions in the water concession contracts, which are deemed disadvantageous to the public because they prohibit the government from adjusting water rates.
“We gave these two concessionaires the privilege to supply water but they also have the obligation to pay corporate tax,” Gatchalian said.
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