Duterte to water officials: Shape up or ship out
President Rodrigo Duterte told the officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System ( MWSS) and two water concessionaires to "shape up or ship out" following the water supply interruptions in some parts of the metropolis and nearby areas.
In a 40-minute meeting, which was "more of a presidential monologue" in Malacanang on Tuesday night, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Duterte ordered the officials of the MWSS, as well as that of Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., to submit a report on the water shortage before April 7, "after which he will decide whether heads will roll or whether the contracts of the concessionaires will be terminated."
"The Chief Executive 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.
Quoting Duterte, he said the water concessionaires only care about "profit from the water of the people."
He said the concessionaires should have simply anticipated the shortage and could have done something about it.
Before Duterte issued a stern warning on March 15 to MWSS and Manila Water, residents, particularly in the eastern part of Metro Manila and nearby provinces or the Manila Water customers suffered from prolonged water supply interruptions, affecting their daily lives as well as businesses.
Water officials initially blamed the effect of weak El Nino phenomenon and later Manila Water's increased demand for the water shortage.
Maynilad customers, on the other hand, did not experience severe water supply interruptions.
"They had to wait for him to threaten them with personally rushing 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.
He said Duterte 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 told the water officials that they 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 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," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel. Celerina Monte/DMS