Duterte to speak on water contracts Jan. 6 | Inquirer News
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Duterte to speak on water contracts Jan. 6

/ 05:46 AM December 20, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte is still interested to find out what led to the crafting of the “onerous” 1997 water concession agreements with Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water Co. Inc. and will make an announcement on Jan. 6.“Last night, I think he repeated that he still wants to talk with those involved, the lawyers of the government, the private lawyers,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing on Thursday.

“He said, ‘I still want to hear why they allowed this kind of treason against the interest of the Filipino people.’” Panelo said further, quoting Mr. Duterte.Panelo said he and the President discussed the water concession deal again during a Christmas party in Malacañang on Wednesday night.“He said he will not leave this case hanging. Let’s wait. He said he will make an important announcement on Jan. 6,” Panelo said.

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“He said something like, ‘I do not know whether I will survive this, but I will not allow this to happen.’ I think what he meant is, he will not step out of [sic] the presidency without resolving this issue.”

Renegotiated, not revoked

Earlier, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) revoked, on Mr. Duterte’s orders, the extension of the water concession agreements to 2037 after Mr. Duterte threatened to file economic sabotage and plunder charges against the two water firms.

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The government also threatened to retake control of water distribution.

But of late, both the justice and finance chiefs have said the agreements would not be revoked but rather renegotiated in terms of their alleged onerous provisions.‍

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra cited such provisions as those barring government interference in rate setting and indemnity for possible losses, among others.

‍But former President Fidel Ramos defended the “transparency” of the 1997 agreements, based in part on what he said was “complete staff work.”

“Before 1997, the MWSS was unable to fulfill its mandate, which resulted in poor service to the public, water loss of around 65 percent not to mention decades of underinvestment and mounting government debt in excess of $1 billion,” Ramos said, explaining the need to privatize water service back then.

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TAGS: duterte, Local news, Manila Water, Maynilad, Palace, water, water concessionaires
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