02 March 2004
The Freedom from Debt Coalition and allied organizations led a 400-strong mass action,yesterday morning, near Malacanang Palace to demand President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the MWSS-Regulatory Office to respond to irate public outcry about the alleged Maynilad bail-out and anomalous debt-to-equity arrangement of the government with the “New Maynilad” corporation.
Partylist groups Sanlakas and Akbayan and progressive urban poor, labor, overseas workers organizations challenged the government to immediately declare a Concessionaire Event of Termination of the MWSS-Maynilad Concession Agreement in as much as Maynilad has placed itself under receivership which according to Section 10.2 of the Concession Agreement already represents a ground for ending the contract.
They further expressed disgust and disbelief over MWSS's move to take out another $220 million loan from various international banks to pay for maturing obligations that Maynilad’s concession fees are supposed to shoulder. These moves, according to them, are unthinkable especially with the fiscal crisis that the government cannot extricate itself from and when the public debt has further soared to P4 trillion.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition urgently demanded transparency and full disclosure of information on all the ongoing processes and negotiations especially as there are alleged preparations to come out with Amendment 2 of the Concession Agreement to provide the "legal basis" for the debt-to-equity swap scheme which would convert P8 billion worth of Maynilad's unpaid concession fees into a 60% government majority share into the "New Maynilad" but which will not result into a government takeover and control of the company.
Freedom from Debt Coalition Vice President Wilson Fortaleza decried the arbitrary government position on the matter as he recalled that the the government had a contrary view when Freedom from Debt Coalition called for conversion into shares of stock in Meralco of the P28 B Meralco refund last year.
In a dramatic protest over the GMA-Maynilad shady deal, grassroots leaders symbolically unveiled and wrecked the anomalous and onerous Maynilad Concession Agreement.