Walang kinalaman si Noy! Hilbay says FVR, GMA to blame for onerous provisions in water deals with Salim-Consunji, Ayala

Former Solicitor General Pilo Hilbay is adamant that President Noy Aquino had nothing to do with the onerous provisions in the 1997 concessionaire agreements of Salim-Consunji’s Maynilad and Ayala’s Manila Water.

Hilbay noted that it was actually the Aquino administration which opposed the rate hikes and led to the filing of an arbitration case in Singapore.

Hilbay said critics should train their guns on the Ramos and Arroyo administrations on why Maynilad and Manila Water were allowed to “screw” the public according to President Rodrigoo Duterte.

“In 1997, President Ramos entered into water concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water. In 2009, President Arroyo extended these contracts. President Noynoy Aquino had nothing to do with the drafting of the contracts,” said Hilbay in a statement.

“The Finance secretaries of both the Ramos and Arroyo administrations issued so-called Letters of Undertaking promising to indemnify the concessionaires in case it interferes with the rate-setting mechanism. Also, in case of a dispute, they agreed that an arbitration shall be held under UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Rules mandating that the proceedings be confidential,” he added.

Hilbay denied charges that he was responsible for keeping the suit filed by Maynilad and Manila Awater aginast the government secret.

“Maynilad decided to sue the Republic on these Letters of Undertaking in 2015, the OSG insisted on inserting ‘public interest exceptions’ to these confidentiality rules. We were able to relax the rules. This will be found in Par. 26 of the Procedural Order of the arbitral panel dated March 17, 2016,” he said.

“Whereas the water concessionaires are accountable only to their private shareholders, the Republic, as a party and as an entity, is accountable to the Filipino public. My role as SolGen during the arbitrations was very limited, as my term expired before the proceedings went under way. All the arbitration hearings happened during the present administration,” he added.

The Singapore arbitration court awarded a P3.4 billion compensation to Maynilad in July 2017 and P7.4 billion to Manila Water in November 2018.

A few days after Duterte raised hell over the gall of water firms to demand compensation for alleged losses after earning P12 billion a year in the last 10 years, Salim-Consunji and Ayalas raised the white flag and agreed not to collect the P11 billion compensation; remove the onerous terms in the 1997 contract; and accept the decision of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to void the 15-year extension awarded in the last few months of the Arroyo administration.

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