Grace Poe

Poe slams MWSS chief’s absence in Senate franchise hearing

September 1, 2021 Marlon Purification 288 views

SENATOR Grace Poe called on heads of government agencies to attend legislative hearings that directly impact on the work and service they provide ordinary citizens to guarantee that they are not shortchanged.

Poe issued the reminder during the Senate Public Services Committee hearing she led on the franchises of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. which Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) chairman Reynaldo Velasco skipped.

“We’ve had hearings in the past and there’s actually a law saying that whoever is the head of the department has the responsibility and the burden of response. It’s really difficult to conduct these hearings at such a very important matter when your head of agency is not even present,”Poe said.

The senator noted that the country averted a serious water supply shortage this summer only because of the slowdown in business and economic activities and not because new water supply sources are up.

“It would have been better if a member of the board was present here today to at least give legitimacy, and if not that, to show their actual endorsement and sincerity in approving this agreement,”Poe said.

Concerns were also raised on the difference between the expiration of the validity of the revised concession agreement of the water concessionaires which is in 2037 and the proposed extension of their franchise until 2046.

“Paano na lang yan? Baka pagdating sa matters of importance, puro na lang OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate Counsel) ang ipadadala at hindi pa nila alam lahat ng nangyayari. We need to be able to thresh this out before we grant a franchise,” Poe added.

MWSS chairman Reynaldo Velasco was not present at the hearing.

“We want to make sure that there is certainty of contracts. It’s difficult to change goalposts in the middle of the game. Mahirap kung ‘di natin sinusunod ang mga napagkasunduan natin. Above all, we must take into account the needs of our consumers,”Poe said.