THE OUTSIDER: It’s a banner year for Manila Water

As it observes its 25th year as a water concessionaire this year, congratulations are in order for Manila Water Services, Inc. for garnering 7th place on LinkedIn’s Top 2022 companies in the Philippines for professionals to grow their careers.

This is a feat for the water company that also landed in LinkedIn’s list of best workplaces last year.

Criteria for inclusion in the list include ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, gender diversity and spread of educational background. Companies in the list are those that offer stability to their employees and attracting new ones.

The recognition given by LinkedIn is testament to Manila Water’s efforts in improving the well-being of its employees and providing them with career growth that impact their lives in the process.

That the recognition awarded to Manila Water for two consecutive years comes in the wake of COVid-19 pandemic makes it even more significant. “It shows how the company is totally committed to give the best of what we can do help our employees stay healthy, safe and productive in this unprecedented period of their working lives,” Manila Water President and CEO JV Emmanuel de Dios had said.

Manila Water has initiated its Total Employee Well-being Programs to help its employees overcome the impact of the pandemic. This initiative centered on social, emotional, physical, psychological, career development and financial support to help employees cope with the fluid uncertainty of their day-to-day work experiences.

Manila Water, now under the stewardship of business tycoon Enrique “Sonny” Razon following a 24-year majority stakeholdership of the Ayalas, gets another affirmation as a top notch company as it is shortlisted as one of the best companies in the forthcoming Global Water Awards under the Water Company of the Year category.  Joining Manila Water, the only local-based company in the short list, are Aqualia, Metito and Saur. Winners of the 2022 Global Water Awards were announced at the Global Water Summit in Madrid, Spain.

The water company has reaped accolades in the past. It received the Best Sustainability Award by Asset Asian Awards in 2020 for its US$ 500 million sustainability bond issuance – the largest sustainability bond issued by a privately-led, publicly-listed water utility in Asia despite financial challenges due to the pandemic.

It earned recognition from the World Bank for its commitment to become a Utility of the Future. As a future-focused utility it provides reliable, safe, inclusive, transparent, and responsive water supply and sanitation services through best-fit practices that allow it to operate in an efficient, resilient and sustainable manner.

Manila Water is also known to have pioneered sustainability practices in the Philippines: it was the first domestic company to publish sustainability reports in 2005; the first to communicate climate change policies in 2007; and the first to publish sustainability reports in accordance with GRI Standards in 2010. It is poised to publicize its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies later this year.

Manila Water, the MWSS concessionaire for the East Zone is serving 7.3 million customers. The East Zone concession covers 23 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and Rizal namely Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan, Taguig, Marikina, and parts of Quezon City and Manila  in NCR;  and Angono, Baras, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona, Jalajala, Morong, Pililia, Rodriguez, Tanay, Taytay, Teresa, San Mateo and Antipolo in the province of Rizal. Among others, it has expanded its local operations to Boracay, Clark, Cebu and Davao and internationally to Indonesia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Last year was indeed a banner year for the water company. It was granted another 25-year franchise to operate by the Philippines Government. In collaboration with international partners, it also secured in 2021 a second high-profile water and wastewater management contract covering the eastern zone of Saudi Arabia reinforcing its presence in the country.

In 2021, it recorded its highest capital expenditures (CapEx) at Php13.7 billion, more than its 2020 CapEx of Php10.7 billion.

According to Manila Water, major components of the investment are the construction of new facilities and networks to expand service coverage, rehabilitation and improvement on existing assets and facilities for both water and wastewater, compliance projects relating to biological nutrient removal (BNR) for wastewater facilities, and the implementation of interim water source projects. It has awarded 282 projects in 2021.

The company remains resilient despite the challenges of water security and uncertainties due to the pandemic. It never wavers in its commitment to provide excellent service to its customers. Over the years its accomplishments speak for themselves: increased water availability to nearly 100% from 26%; reduction of NRW from 63% to an average of 13%; and giving access to clean and affordable water to those from marginalized communities through its Water for the Community Program.

It has been said that Government and business are two institutions fated to travel together. With the new concession agreement in place, may this journey be more fruitful and this partnership benefit more Filipinos.