Duterte still wants explanation on water concession deals

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2019 02:53 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Office of the President Christmas Party at the Malacañan Palace on December 18, 2019. Simeon Celi Jr., Presidential Photo

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte is still keen on finding out the nitty-gritty details on the crafting of the government's "onerous" water concession contracts, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday.

"Sabi niya (Duterte), hindi siya papayag na walang mangyayari sa kasong ito," Panelo told reporters.

(He said he won't allow this case to hang in the air.)

While the President did not mention whether he still wants to meet with water distributors Maynilad and Manila Water, Panelo said Duterte specified that he wanted to know the reasons of the lawyers that crafted the contracts.

"I still want to hear why they allowed this kind of treason against the interest of the Filipino people," Panelo said, quoting Duterte.

"I think what he (Duterte) meant is he will not step out of the presidency without resolving this issue," Panelo added.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System earlier revoked the extension of the water companies' concession deals after President Duterte threatened to file "economic sabotage" and economic plunder charges against Maynilad and Manila Water.

He claimed that Filipinos are “milked by billions” because of their onerous water concession contracts with the government.

Following Duterte's tirades and threats, both the Pangilinan-led Maynilad and Ayala-owned Manila Water said they would no longer collect P10.8 billion in compensation a Singapore-based arbitration court had ordered the Philippine government to pay the distributors.

A new concession deal will be offered to Maynilad and Manila Water first and to other consortia, if both reject it, MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat earlier said.

Duterte will make an announcement on the water concession contracts on Jan. 6, Panelo said but refused to give specifics.