“Over the years, we have honed our technical skills to attain operating efficiencies considered by many as among the most advanced in the world.”
Since Manila Water began more than 20 years ago, your company has constantly made significant strides in growth and stability, owing to our many years of experience in resolving numerous challenges which came our way. From the early difficulties in rehabilitating the East Zone water and wastewater system, to the raw water shortage and regulatory challenges last year, Manila Water has always persevered and come out stronger.
2020, however, was unique in that we faced a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to fundamentally challenge our economic and healthcare systems, and ultimately, the way we live. We also had to deal with the Taal eruption and the many typhoons last year, which tested our operations and commitment to our stakeholders.
Your Company responded to these challenges by prioritizing stakeholder welfare, ensuring efficiency and effective execution of our operations, and building a solid platform for growth and resilience entering a post-COVID world.
Let me first talk about our efforts to protect our stakeholders. Our first priority was to ensure the health and safety of our employees, while ensuring 24/7 availability of water services. We deployed technical personnel to key facilities on a rotating basis. Sacrificing time with their family and loved ones, these managers manned their posts over extended periods of time to ensure continued water, and sanitation services to residences, health centers and government facilities.
Similarly, our project delivery teams worked with our contractor partners to safely restart our infrastructure projects as quarantine restrictions were eased. These projects also supported our contractor partners and their employees with much-needed livelihood during critical times. The construction of new wastewater infrastructure, further improvements to our water distribution network, and the execution of new water supply projects will provide an even higher level of service in our concession area, as well as source much needed water supply for the short to medium-term.
Meanwhile, we also supported our customers through extended payment periods and temporary suspension of disconnection activities for past-due accounts amidst the community quarantines. We thank the MWSS Regulatory Office for the partnership in alleviating our customers’ economic plight.
For the community-at-large, Manila Water worked with government, our sister companies in the Ayala Group, and other private sector partners to establish the We Heal As One treatment facility at the World Trade Center. Capable of accommodating 500 patients, Manila Water played a crucial role in immediately constructing hygiene and sanitation facilities for quarantined patients. We also assisted local government units by providing potable water for our healthcare and law enforcement frontliners in the field, as well as ensuring that hospitals will have uninterrupted service.
Manila Water engaged in a disciplined exercise to assess our portfolio. Unfortunately, this meant discontinuing our Healthy Family packaged water operations, as well as provisions for several of our domestic and international businesses that were encountering difficulties. We added liquidity and strength to our already robust balance sheet with the successful issuance of our Sustainability Bonds in the middle of 2020. The proceeds from these bonds will be used to finance several critical projects in the near term. We are delighted that the Sustainability Bonds further cements our commitment to ESG business practices, which we have pioneered in the Philippine water space.
More recently, we are glad to have reached an agreement with the government on a Revised Concession Agreement for the operation, maintenance, and expansion of the East Zone water and wastewater system. This important milestone is the culmination of several months of hard work and discussion with several key government agencies to arrive at what we see as a new working template for public-private partnership. We believe that this is a solid foundation from which to continue providing more reliable service to our customers in the East Zone through key infrastructure investments.
Finally, as we look to opportunities in the future, we are delighted to introduce a new partner into Manila Water with the entry of the Razon group as soon as regulatory processes are complete. Mr. Ricky Razon and his team bring a solid track record and global experience in managing regulated businesses, as well as in successfully operationalizing concession contracts and public-private partnerships. We are excited for the synergies this partnership brings to Manila Water and to our stakeholders.
To close, Manila Water has always risen to any challenge, and has consistently emerged stronger. Over the years, we have honed our technical skills to attain operating efficiencies considered by many as among the most advanced in the world.
For over 20 years, we have invested around P116 billion in water infrastructure. This has created around 5,200km of pipes that deliver over a billion liters of potable water per day to more than seven million Filipinos in Metro Manila. Sanitation and wastewater coverage also expanded to nearly two million of our countrymen in the East Zone. We are proud that our colleagues at Manila Water — a unique mix of seasoned pioneers, and young and innovative individuals — have transformed Manila Water into a world-class company.
Raw water intake at Cardona, Rizal
Water treatment plant at Cardona, Rizal
We are proud that the efforts of our Company have been recognized by several international institutions, which include the Asian Human Capital Award by the government of Singapore. We have also received a recognition as One of Asia’s Top Greenest Companies by FinanceAsia, and in more recent years the Unilever Global Development Award for our Tubig Para sa Barangay Program.
These citations for operational excellence, human capital development, corporate governance, sustainability, and social impact are a testament to the strong commitment to service and sustainability that are the hallmarks of the Manila Water spirit.
There is still much to be done as we move forward. Please allow me to extend my deepest appreciation to you, our dear shareholders, for your continued trust throughout the years. Allow me as also to thank my fellow directors on the Board for your guidance and unwavering support. I also give my most heartfelt thanks to the Manila Water team. In my years serving as your Chairman, you have truly been an inspiration - always driven by your passion for service. It is my strong belief that this very same passion will carry us to much greater heights, especially as we move towards a post-COVID world.
FERNANDO ZOBEL DE AYALA