Duterte won't compromise with water concessionaires sans talking to them
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that his administration would not compromise with the water concessionaires until he talked to them and the government lawyer who prepared the contracts.
In a speech in Malacañang during the oath-taking of newly promoted military and police officials, Duterte reiterated that the issue with Manila Waters Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. was a "classic economic plunder."
"That's why I said how are you going to settle this? They say, 'Let's settle this.' How?How will I compromise? That’s plunder. That is the classic economic plunder," he said.
Duterte earlier ordered the Department of Justice to study the contracts with the two firms amid the decision of the Singapore-based Arbitral Tribunal ordering the government to indemnify Ayala-led Manila Water with P7.4 billion for its actual losses from June 1, 2015 to Nov. 22, 2019 for breach of contract.
Three years ago, the arbitration court also directed the Philippine government to pay Maynilad P3.6 billion as compensation for losses or damages.
The DOJ found the contracts entered into by the then Ramos administration in 1997 with the two water concessionaires as onerous and disadvantageous to the government.
The contracts prohibit the government's interference in rate-setting and the provision to indemnify the water concessionaires in the event of such interference.
While the 25-year deals with the two firms have yet to expire in 2022, the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo extended them up to 2037.
"How can now I tell the people as President: 'Adre, son of a b****, let's just settle this. Tell me. Tell me those f*****... Tell me how am I going to tell the people?" Duterte said.
"I cannot imagine two administrations allowing our sovereignty to be bargained away," he said.
Duterte said he wants to talk with the concessionaires and their lawyers.
"That's why I want to talk to them. This can't be settled without talking to the concessionaires and I want in front of the government's lawyer who crafted this contract," he said.
"I want to know who were the government's lawyers. Because they... They... They... They... That they were selling this country down the drain," Duterte added. Celerina Monte/DMS