“Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.”
These were the very words of Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo when asked to comment on several issues engulfing the water industry; specifically, whether or not the government will revamp the management of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
The MWSS is the agency responsible for water privatization in Metro Manila.
“Hintayin natin. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. Hintayin na lang natin. Maraming matatanggal diyan,” Panelo said in a chance interview, quoting President Rodrigo Duterte who earlier said that “heads will roll. I’ll terminate [the contracts].”
Earlier today, Panelo revealed that the President reprimanded officials of the MWSS, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. over the water shortage which affected millions of households in the metropolis and neighboring provinces.
In a statement, Panelo described that Duterte was so outraged he told these officials to “shape up or ship out” during a 40-minute meeting at the Palace.
“The Chief Executive told them he was not going to listen to their explanation as to why there was a water shortage as such would be just plain excuses. They simply did not do their job. ‘All they care about is get profit from the water of the people’ and to their sufferance as well. The President told them they could have simply anticipated such shortage and could have done something about it,” he added.
During his monologue, the President blamed the concerned government agency and entities for “not anticipating” the water shortage and failure “to present it from happening.”
“In a stern message delivered without even once looking at the officials, the obviously outraged President threatened to fire the MWSS officials and terminate the concessionaires’ contracts,” Panelo said.
The presidential spokesperson explained that the country’s highest leader holds the power to cancel the 25-year concession agreement of the MWSS with Manila Water and Maynilad at any given time.
“Pag public welfare ang pinag-uusapan, he can do anything. Serve and protect, iyon nga ang sinasabi ng constitution. If you violate the contract, then you can rescind it,” he said.
Panelo also implied at either taking over or bidding out the contract for improving water supply and services in the metropolis should the government decide to repeal the deal with the two water firms.
“Take over ... kayang-kaya ng presidente iyan. Presidente pa? Napaka-creative,” he said.