Dominguez willing to talk to MPIC

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Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said that he is open to discussing with Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) Chairman Manuel Pangilinan possible compromise agreements on the latter’s combined P12-billion monetary claims against the national government.

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“Are you serious about him wanting to speak with me? He has my number, we are friends so how come he does not call?” Dominguez said when asked whether he is willing to discuss possible compromise agreements with MPIC.

MPIC, an infrastructure conglomerate, had lodged separate arbitration cases against regulators under the Aquino Administration for its refusal to implement water and toll rate upward adjustments, which were stipulated under the existing contracts.

Late last month, Pangilinan said that his firm wishes to start a clean slate with the incoming Duterte administration, saying that MPIC, or any business group for that matter, does not want to be in a case wherein the government is the adverse party.

“There has got to be a clean-up. We do not want to be in a case with the government. No business group would want to be in that situation where you are in dispute with the government,” he said.

“Where are the claims now?” Dominguez said. “I would like to know, because if they are still under litigation, then it would be premature to reach a compromise. But should they secure a favorable decision, and even if it is adverse to the government, then we will honor it,” the newly appointed secretary said.

“I am very open to discussing it with him,” he added.

David Nicol, the chief financial officer of MPIC, noted that should the cases drag on and remain unresolved by the end of the year, MPIC’s claim would balloon to more than 12 billion.

“For the water and roads businesses, claims are going up all the time. Water is heading toward P7 billion, and for the roads, it is in the north of P4 billion by the end of the year,” Nicol said.

MPIC’s water unit, Maynilad Water Services Inc. had won an arbitration case on its 2013-2017 water tariff, which to date, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) refuses to recognize.

In April, its Manila North Tollways Corp. also filed a notice of arbitration before the UN Commission on International Trade Law in Geneva, claiming P3 billion in compensation for the government’s inaction on toll hike petitions.

MPIC is also seeking P1.9 billion in monetary claims against the government’s failure to make good on its promise of additional light rail vehicles in connection with its Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1) Cavite Extension contract.

“In the matter of LRT1, obligations of the government to the respective concessionaire remain unfulfilled,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said that in lieu of the multiple arbitration cases against the government, MPIC is willing to cut the government some slack by way of a compromise agreement.

“If there is any solution to that represents a compromise…So that we, the government, and the country can move forward, especially with respect to LRT1 expansion,” he added.

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