Then House of Representative of the Province of Quezon and now Governor Danilo Suarez sought the commitment of the MWSS and its two (2) Concessionaires to support his administration’s socio-economic programs, during a meeting held at MWSS on 12 September 2019. The Provincial Board Members and department heads joined the MWSS officials and Manila Water and Maynilad CEO’s to hear Governor Suarez’ proposal.
Gov Suarez discussed his administration’s “Water System and Welfare Protection Program” for the towns of Real, Infanta and General Nakar in a bid to spur economic growth and health programs for the Quezonians. The programs he said, will be funded out of MWSS’ payment of royalty fees with respect to the natural resources MWSS extracts/will extract from Quezon Province particularly the Umiray-Sumag and soon to be Kaliwa River for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project. The royalty claim of P0.01 per liter, he said finds legal basis on the 2016 Revenue Code of the Province of Quezon. The MWSS, on the otherhand maintained that it cannot pay royalty fee to the Province because as a government instrumentality and since domestic raw water extraction is not within the purview of the Code, MWSS can not accede to Quezon’s demand.
Administrator Salamat clarified that the issue of royalty fee is non-negotiable. However, the MWSS and the Concessionaires are willing to invest in CSR and infrastructure projects that will benefit the local indigenous peoples who live in the project area.
The Sumag River Diversion Project (SRDP) involves the construction of a tunnel that will divert the yield of Sumag River to the Umiray River that flows to the Umiray-Angat-Transbasin Facilities (UATF). The UATF which needs urgent rehabilitation and the SRDP would have solved the recent water shortage experienced by Metro Manila residents and addressed the threat of another water shortage in 2020, had both projects not been stopped by the Province.
In 2019 during the Congress hearing on the water crisis, Gov Suarez who was the then Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts announced that he will support the resumption of the SRDP to help Metro Manila deal with the water crisis. His statement will be a living contradiction if the water shortage continues in 2020 as a result of the non-continuation of the SRDP and UATF rehabilitation projects.