LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN—Governor Ramon V. Guico III vehemently denied allegations that Manila Water Company, Inc. and its subsidiary terminated their concession agreement with the Provincial Government of Pangasinan (PGP) due to the latter’s “non-fulfillment of conditions.”
In a press conference at the Urduja House in Lingayen on January 9, the governor stated that, as far as the provincial government of Pangasinan is concerned, there was no awareness of such conditions, which are not complied with, nor was there any information on the part of Manila Water stating any violations of the province.
“Since it is our leadership that is put in a bad light, we are compelled to clarify things. We are not picking a fight; we just want to defend ourselves, kasi very harsh ‘yong statement, and it is contradicting to the thrust of our administration to invite more investors that could produce revenues for the province,” Gov. Guico said as he disclosed that the province is not against the project.
As stated by Provincial Legal Officer Baby Ruth Torre, the province received a communication from Manila Water in April 2023.
Considering that the past administration entered into the agreement, the Provincial Legal Office conducted due diligence. Several irregularities were uncovered, including the fact that the confirmation and approval of the Certification of Successful Negotiation came before the execution of the said certification.
Based on records, the Certificate of Successful Negotiation dated July 3, 2019, was entered into by the consortium and the PGP represented by then Provincial Administrator Nimrod Camba, the Chairman of the PPP-SC that time.
The former provincial administrator “does not have the authority to represent the Province and to sign the Certification of Successful Negotiation.”
“Although he is the Chairman of the PPPSC, it was stated in Section 13 of the PPP Code that all recommendations of the PPPSC shall be submitted to the Governor for his consideration and approval,” the legal officer cited.
In addition, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on June 28, 2019, issued Provincial Resolution No. 380-2019 entitled, “Confirming and Approving the Terms and Conditions embodied in the Certificate of Successful Negotiations between the Consortium of Manila Water Philippine Ventures, Inc. and the Provincial Government of Pangasinan in the implementation of the Pangasinan Bulk Water Supply Project in the Province, and to proceed with the other processes in accordance with the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code of the Province and Hereby granting authority to the Honorable Governor to sign pertinent documents concerning said project” confirming the terms and of the certification of Successful Negotiation dated July 3, 2019.
“The confirmation and approval of the Certification of Successful Negotiation came before the execution of the said certification,” Atty. Torre said.
Under the PPP Code of the province, the SP approval of the terms and conditions in the certificate should have been done prior to the issuance of the PPPSC.
Atty. Torre stated that, on record, there was no proof of publication of the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Submit Comparative Proposals in reference to the PPP Provision. Also, upon inquiry from the Office of the Provincial Treasurer, there is no proof of payment of the Performance Security Bond.
“The Notice of Award was issued prior to the signing of the PPP Contract (Concession Agreement). Under the PPP Code, only after the signing of the PPP contract by the governor that the PPPSC shall issue the Notice of Award to the PSP. However, the Notice of Award was issued by the PPPSC on September 30, 2021, while the Concession was entered/executed on January 14, 2022,” the legal officer pointed out.
The legal officer further disclosed that in the joint venture agreement, no new amendments or new agreements were executed on or before December 31, 2023, which made the supposed P8-billion project died a natural death.
Gov. Guico said he is set to meet with the officials of MWCI this month.
“We want to clarify that we want the project; we believe in the project,” Governor Guico said.
Under the concession agreement, MWCI will invest P8 billion in the next 25 years for the creation of an infrastructure that will source water from the Agno River through riverbank filtration technology.
Some 14 towns and cities will benefit from the project to include the towns of Villasis, Malasiqui, Mangaldan, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao, Mapandan, Manaoag, Binmaley, Lingayen, San Jacinto, and San Fabian, and the cities of Dagupan, Urdaneta, and San Carlos. (Jooy Olimpo, Ruby R. Bernardino/Pangasinan Information and Media Relations Office)