Our latest report follows up on the deepening secrecy that shrouds the P52-billion Laiban Dam project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in Tanay, Rizal.

This story written by PCIJ Fellow Roel Landingin reveals that not only the public but also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has been kept in the dark about details of the MWSS’s joint venture agreement (JVA) with food-beverage giant San Miguel Corporation.

The NEDA representative to the MWSS Selection Committee that is bidding out the contract has not even seen or read a copy of the JVA. The private-sector representative to the Committee says he has been shown only a power-point presentation on the JVA.

A fresh request for a copy of the JVA from NEDA Director General Ralph Recto himself has been ignored by the MWSS, whose officials insist that the agreement with San Miguel is “confidential.”

In a sidebar, PCIJ staff writer Karol Ilagan reports that senior MWSS officials have invariably avoided requests for interview and access to documents covering the Laiban Dam project.

Persistent efforts by the PCIJ to obtain information on whether other parties filed counter-bids within the July 8 deadline, and for the MWSS to comment on San Miguel’s assertion of a “take or pay” provision in the agreement, have been rebuffed by the MWSS.

The officials authorized to talk were supposedly either on sick leave, on leave for other reasons, or just simply unavailable. Their deputies, meanwhile, have opted to keep mum on the matter, saying only “upper authority” has been allowed to speak.

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