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Water firms’ plan to obtain more loans draws flak

Malacañang is baffled by the two Metro Manila water concessionaires’ reported intent to get more loans even if they have supposedly earned huge profits over the years.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. have “money in the pocket” after securing the alleged onerous water concession contracts with the government several years ago.

“Some of those concessionaires stated that it may affect the service because no banks, loans are forthcoming, nabasa ko iyon eh,” he said.

“My reaction is, excuse me, you have raked billions of profits during the years from 1997 up to the present. What do you need loans for? You have the money in your pocket,” he added.

Banks have reportedly stopped lending money to Maynilad for its expansion plans after the government scrapped a longer water distribution contract.

The President recently launched a public tirade against the controversial water deals for its alleged onerous provisions, threatening to sue and arrest those involved in the deals for plunder or large-scale estafa. New water deals are being finalized by the government to replace the alleged irregular contracts.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System board earlier revoked the extension of the concession agreements with the two water firms following the President’s outburst.

The water concession contracts, signed in 1997, are originally set to expire in 2022. They were granted an extension in 2009 to ensure continued water supply in Metro Manila until 2037. (Genalyn Kabiling)