Selected Philippine journalists as well as members of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) were flown to Hong Kong by Maynilad and billeted in the Four Seasons Hotel to drum up the water concessionaire’s upcoming projects and loan applications.
RJ Javellana, president and spokesman of the Water For All Refund Movement (WARM), said Maynilad Chief Financial Officer Randy Estrellado boasted that Malacañang had given its nod to the water concessionaire’s projects because Manny Pangilinan (MVP) contributed P300 million to the campaign kitty of then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“Are those PR expenses charged to our monthly bills too? Is this true Mr. Estrellado, that after your press briefing, you personally intimated to an influential media guy na hindi pababayaan ng Malacañang si MVP? Dahil sabi mo nagbigay si MVP kay Ballsy Cruz ng P300 million campaign contribution kay President Noy noong 2010?” Javellana said.
He said that while in Hong Kong, Maynilad picked up the hotel tab of MWSS Regulatory officials and gave them shopping money.
“Kargado lahat yan sa ating mga monthly bills. Gastos lahat ito ng mga water consumers,” Javellana said.
He said Estrellado told reporters who were flown to Hong Kong of the water utility’s projects worth P18 billion next year based on a business plan submitted to the MWSS.
“We’ve taken a position that it’s business as usual until we’re done with arbitration,” Javellana quoted Maynilad President Victorico Vargas as saying.
In October, Maynilad filed a notice of dispute before the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration after the government turned down its application to raise rates.
Maynilad had proposed P692 billion in expenditures from 2013 to 2037, an amount that would have translated to an increase of P8.58 per cubic meter.
“Even if the arbitration will last for six to a maximum of 12 months, we should still be able to do what we need to do next year, but it will be difficult for us to sign new loans for 2015-2016 projects because these are long-term facilities,” Estrellado said.
Before yearend or early in 2014, Maynilad will sign a P6-billion loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a sewerage project, he said.
“JICA wants to see how we move forward. We’re getting money from the World Bank also. They’re waiting to see how the arbitration process goes,” Vargas said.
Last year, the World Bank loaned $275 million to Maynilad and its East Zone counterpart Manila Water Co Inc. for the Metro Manila Wastewater Management Project, which involves the construction of sewage treatment plants and related facilities.