AN “outraged” President Rodrigo Duterte berated officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad and Manila Water as he warned he would consider firing MWSS officials and terminating concessionaires’ contracts over recent water interruptions in parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte told the officials to “shape up or ship out” during a forty-minute meeting in Malacañang Tuesday night.
“All they care about is get profit from the water of the people,” Panelo said, quoting Duterte.
He said the meeting was more of a “presidential monologue” as the President “told them he was not going to listen to their explanation as to why there was a water shortage as such would be just plain excuses.”
“They simply did not do their job,” Panelo said.
He said Duterte ordered the officials to submit a report before April 7 then he would “decide whether heads will roll or whether the contracts of the concessionaires will be terminated.”
“In a stern message delivered without even once looking at the officials, the obviously outraged President threatened to fire the MWSS officials and terminate the concessionaires’ contracts,” he said.
“The President,” Panelo said, told the officials “they could have simply anticipated such shortage and could have done something about it.”
“They had to wait for him to threaten them and personally rush to Manila from Davao to grapple with the crisis before they moved to end it. The Chief Executive bluntly told them to ‘shape up or ship out!’” Panelo said.
The Palace official added that “the President expressed his evident displeasure by saying that he hoped that at the end of the day the water crisis was not just a matter of common sense.”
Panelo said Duterte mentioned that the “officials knew of the problem leading to the stoppage of the flow of water but they did not resolve to prevent it from happening.”
The President, he added, “reiterated that he is constitutionally tasked to serve and protect the citizenry, and he will not equivocate to take swift and drastic actions to secure the people from discomfort and shield them from suffering, regardless of the dire consequences to the players of the water industry.”
Help from Singapore and Israel
President Duterte has sought advice from Singapore and Israel on sound water management after water shortage hit parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Singapore and Israel are two countries lacking water resources but were able to have a good water management system, it was learned.
“We are happy to see you here and I hope your stay will be productive. We need a lot of advice from Singapore and I’m sure those advices will help a long way to help us solve the problem especially water. I know Israel and Singapore has the best operating machines about desalination,” Duterte said during the presentation of credentials of Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines Gerard Ho Wei Hong in Malacañang on Tuesday.
Some parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas have experienced water shortage for more than a week, prompting the Senate and the House of Representatives to hold separate investigations into the matter.
Malacañang has said there was no water supply shortage in the metro and instead blamed “mismanagement” for the crisis.
Duterte earlier ordered the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to tell Manila Water Co. and Maynilad to release water from Angat Dam good for 150 days to address the water shortage.