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MVP’s strong words; Mikee Romero scores

Telecom czar Manuel V. Pangilinan, or MVP, let out the sentiments of his conglomerate with strong words against the state water regulator.

MVP is clearly exasperated by the turn of events and at the way the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System is interpreting an arbitration ruling on the case filed by Maynilad Water Services Inc.

The MWSS, for some reasons, did not implement an arbitral award and, instead, ordered water concessionaires to stop passing on the corporate income tax to customers.

The appeals panel of an international arbitration court handling the case of Maynilad earlier upheld the company’s rate rebasing adjustment, which called for an increase in the basic charge by an average of P3.06 per cubic meter from the current basic rate. The appeals panel also allowed the company to pass on the corporate income tax to consumers.

But the MWSS, acting as interpeter of the arbitral decision, implemented the arbitral award partially and prevented the company from passing on the corporate income tax to consumers.

MVP, who is also chairman of Maynilad Water, stressed the company was not a public utility and, thus, could pass on the corporate income tax to consumers, as ruled by the arbitration court.

“What agreement do we have with the government? It is a concession agreement. We do not own the assets. We are simply contractors to the assets owned by the government,” Pangilinan said. “I think it has been explained to full measures during the arbitration proceedings that we are not a utility. That’s even in the heading, that we’re a concession.”

Pangilinan said a lot of the money was being spent for the improvement of water services in the west zone. “We are simply a contractor. The form of the two water concessions is not a franchise like Meralco,” Pangilinan said.

“If you’re a franchise holder like Meralco and PLDT, you own the assets subject to regulation and since you are a franchise utility, you have to pay your taxes. But your average discount rate is pretaxed. Any businessman will include all of the expenses,” he said.

“We incur more debt every year from the costs of water and sewer improvement programs which we are mandated by law to do,” says MVP.  “The concessionaires should improve their sewerage programs. We are open to do that but you have to uphold the rates because where will we get the money?”

Manila port row

After several legal wranglings, Michael ‘Mikee’ Romero finally obtained a clear ruling from the court. The Manila Regional Trial Court declared Mikee was the true owner of the contested Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.

Harbour Port has been in the news since last year when Michael’s dad, Reghis Romero, took over the operations of the terminal and shut out his son.

What followed was a series of lawsuits traded between the father and son that not only damaged their personal relations but the company as well.

Michael took over the operations of HCPTI in 2003 and made it one of the best-managed companies in the Philipppines.

But it appeared that his dad became envious of his success that Reghis forcibly took Harbour Port from his son last year. In the end, the law prevailed as Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila RTC Branch 26 issued a ruling on May 6 recognizing Michael as the legitimate and true owner of HCPTI.

Pampilo said “this court recognizes the authority of the Movan’ts Board of Directors to which Michael L. Romero belongs, and their authority to act for and in behalf of HCPTI…”

The court sided with Michael when it recognized the two Deeds of Assignment by Reghis that transferred 689,294,652 shareholdings representing 68.11 percent from the father’s RII Builders and RII Holdings to HCPTI.

Reghis, thus, did not have any legal authority to take over HCPTI since he was no longer the owner of the company.

“Notably, plaintiff did not bother to refute movant’s allegations and arguments regarding the 68.11 percent ownership of HCPTI in HCPTI,” the court noted.

The court decided “these two Deeds of Assignment to date, remain valid and effective, as the same were not questioned, controverted, much less nullified in a court of law.”

“After a careful and painstaking evaluation of the evidence submitted by both groups [Romero and Arellano], the court hereby grants the motion and dismisses the complaint,” the court said.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed Alethea Arellano, who claimed she was the assistant manager for port facility maintenance of HCPTI, seeking to recover 15 vehicles registered under HCPTI from Michael and others.

The court ruledArellano did not have the authority to represent HCPTI to file the case. With the ruling, Reghis should now stop messing up his son’s company and dutifully follow the court’s order.

 

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