ILOILO City – The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) has approved the franchise application of yet another water distribution company.
New Earth Water System (NEWS), Inc., a subsidiary of the Lucio Tan Group, was granted a 25-year franchise “to construct, establish, commission, operate, and maintain a water supply system.”
The SP approved the franchise on Tuesday, its fourth.
Just this March, the SP approved the franchise application jointly submitted by Manila Water Philippines Ventures, Inc. (Manila Water) and Tubig Pilipinas Group (TPG), Inc.
The SP also previously granted water distribution franchises to Prime Water (2018) and South Balibago Resources Inc. (2016).
According to Councilor Plaridel Nava, chairperson of the SP committee on public utilities, NEWS’ franchise coverage is the entire Iloilo City.
“Damo gusto mag-engage water business diri sa syudad. This simply shows nakita nila nga indi kaya sang Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD),” said Nava.
But NEWS would probably be the “last water firm” to be granted a franchise, he added, though two more water distribution companies applied for water franchises.
Nava said the SP would check the operation of Prime Water, South Balibago and Manila Water.
“Isa pa, gusto naton tun-an ang joint venture sang MIWD,” said Nava.
MIWD has a joint venture with Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp. (MetroPac) – the Metro Pacific Iloilo Water, Inc. (MIW) that, beginning next month, would be handling the water district’s water distribution, water meter reading, the computation and delivery of water bills and their collection.
“Nagapati kami that this is already in the form of privatization…it is already something nga we will deeply look into,” said Nava.
Last year, MIWD sued eight SP members for usurpation of official function, graft and corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, grave abuse of authority, gross negligence, grave misconduct, and acts contrary to law.
According to MIWD, the authority to grant a water distribution franchise belonged solely to the National Water Resources Board.
MIWD claimed the city councilors who voted to grant the Prime Water franchise did not have the authority to do so. They were Joshua Alim, Lyndon Acap, R Leone Gerochi, Mandrie Malabor, Nava, Eduardo Peñaredondo, Liezl Joy Zulueta Salazar, and Candice Magdalane Tupas./PN