PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is “okay” with giving water concession contracts to Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. if they “pay back” the money to the people.
In his public address aired on Friday morning, Duterte said he would review the new contracts proposed by the government with the two water firms this weekend and was willing to let bygones be bygones.
The President said he has “calmed down” because he knew that water was important to everyone.
“Okay na lang ako. But yung mga nawala sa tao, kung ano yung nawala sa kanila (I’m fine now. But what was taken from the people, whatever that is), that has to be paid back, whether in installments over a period of years, but you have to return the money to the people,” Duterte said.
“Okay na ako (I’m fine now), and you can have your contracts if it is to your liking. But if it is not, then we can proceed with another phase which is really the filing of cases,” he added.
Manila Water is a subsidiary of the Ayala family’s Ayala Corp., while the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan owns a controlling stake in Maynilad Water.
Duterte ordered the crafting of new concession deals with the two water companies after labeling the current agreements as “disadvantageous” to the Filipinos.
Should the water firms reject the new contracts without the “onerous” provisions, the President said he would nationalize the distribution of water services.
But last month, Duterte apologized to the Ayalas and Pangilinan for his previous “hurting words.”
The President has repeatedly railed against Pangilinan and the Ayala family for their water concessionaires’ “onerous” contracts with the government, tagging the businessmen as the “big fish” in corruption.
He also threatened the water concessionaires and former government officials with economic plunder following the tribunal’s ruling demanding the Philippines pay P7.39 billion to Manila Water.
The Ayala-owned firm brought the government to court for refusing rate increases from 2013 to 2017, citing its concession deal which pushes the state to “indemnify” the utility firm against any losses that could result from regulatory actions.