Duterte threatens to sue water firms for economic sabotage
Updated @ 8:35 p.m., Dec. 3, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to file a case of economic sabotage against Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services due to their “onerous” 1997 contracts with the government.
“We will expose them. And I will insist that they be tried for economic sabotage,” a visibly upset Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
“I will file this, economic sabotage, and I will arrest them all. I will let them taste of a prisoner’s life,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino.
During Monday night’s Cabinet meeting, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported to Duterte that it had found out that the government contracts with Manila Water and Maynilad were disadvantageous not only to the government but more so to water consumers.
The President lamented how water has become a business for whom he described as “oligarchs.”
Duterte stressed that one of the most notable onerous provisions was the prohibition against government interference in rate-setting and the provisions on indemnification for possible losses in the event of such interference.
This prompted the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore to order the Philippine government to pay Maynilad about P3.6 billion for losses and damages and recently P7.4 billion to Manila Water on the same issue.
Duterte even accused the Ayala-owned Manila Water of not paying taxes.
“They do not pay corporate income tax. And the corporate income tax they pass on to people as part of what you pay for the water,” he said.
The President, known for being tough-talking, said that he would show the public how to he would slap millionaires.
Duterte said the recent water crisis in Metro Manila and nearby provinces was only made up by the concessionaires to gain more profit.
“They are the ones distributing water to consumers. Sometimes they stop the supply,” he said.
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