Mano-a-mano with MVP: Villar gets OK for Iloilo’s 2nd water franchise
The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) during Tuesday’s regular session granted a non-exclusive franchise to bilyonaryo Manny Villar to operate a water utility in Iloilo City.
The approval came just weeks after bilyonaryo Manuel V. Pangilinan signed a 25-year deal with the existing water utility provider in Iloilo City.
With eight councilors expressing support, five abstentions and one objection, the 25-year non-exclusive franchise was granted to Primewater Infrastructure Corporation (Primewater) to construct, establish, commission, and maintain a water supply system to service the population of Iloilo City.
Councilor Plaridel C. Nava II, in a follow-up interview, said the ball was now in the hands of the city mayor on whether or not to sign or veto the ordinance.
“We are talking about water. I don’t think anyone will argue that they are enjoying much water in Iloilo,” he said when asked about its impact to city residents.
Villar is headed for a collision course with the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) which is serving the same franchise area. Just last week MIWD and the Metro Pacific Water (MPW) signed a P12.35 billion 25-year joint venture project to rehabilitate, expand and improve the water distribution system and wastewater management facilities of the water utility.
Atty. Roy Villa, legal counsel of the MIWD, said MIWD would file a case against the grant of a franchise to Villar’s utility firm.
“We are still thinking of where to file the cases but definitely we will be filing. This time, it will include the Balibago case. We will now proceed with the criminal and administrative charges,” he said.
For criminal charges, he said MIWD would file usurpation of authority because the local government unit has no power to grant franchise.
For administrative, the cases filed would be abuse of authority, grave misconduct and other charges that may have been committed by the elected officials.
Meanwhile, the city government also granted a franchise to Balibago Water Resources Inc. to operate in Jaro district.
Under the franchise granted to Primewater, Villar will pay the city government P1 per cubic meter of water sold and paid for in the franchise area subject to appropriate increases proportional to tariff adjustments.
The phase I of the project that covers the first to third year will serve 25 barangays of La Paz district; 16 in Mandurriao; 17 in City Proper and nine in Lapuz.
The remaining years will cover the 113 unserved barangays of Iloilo City. (PNA)