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Duterte rails anew vs Ayala, MVP

/ 05:44 AM December 31, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has railed anew against the owners of two private water concessionaires in Metro Manila, slamming the Ayala family and Manny Pangilinan as the so-called “big fish” in corruption.

In a speech in M’lang, North Cotabato, the President apologized to the earthquake victims for failing to check on them immediately after the recent tremors that hit Mindanao in recent months.

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“I really made it a point to be here. And I must apologize, I am very sorry that I could not be here immediately. There are many problems in Manila, I was busy cursing the water concessionaires, Ayala and Pangilinan. Now the opposition, or the ruling party, has always been the same. Where is the big fish? Where is the biggest corruption?” he said.

Later on in his speech, he said: “You’re asking, where is the big fish? Where is the corruption, the big ones? I will deliver them to you now. Ayala and Pangilinan.”

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Manila Water Co. is a subsidiary of the Ayala family’s Ayala Corp., while Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investment Corp. owns a controlling stake in Maynilad Water Services.

Earlier this month, the President threatened to slap the owners of the two water firms with economic sabotage and economic plunder charges for the “onerous” 1997 water concession agreement on the distribution of water in Metro Manila.

Mr. Duterte also threatened to expropriate the water distribution in Metro Manila and have the military take over the operations, should the water firms stage a water crisis.

Both Maynilad and Manila Water said they were no longer interested in pursuing their compensation claims against the government, amounting to more than P10 billion.

Malacañang said the Chief Executive was expected to make an announcement on the water crisis and the onerous water concession agreements by Jan. 6.

In his speech on Monday, the President renewed his threat to jail the billionaire owners of the water firms for syndicated estafa, saying the oligarchs have “toyed with the Filipinos.”

“One mistake those fools make, I will jail them. You see, whatever insult I hurl at them, they no longer reply. I am sure they are in it for syndicated estafa,” he said.

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Mr. Duterte said Manila Water and Maynilad were mere “water distributors,” but as it turned out, “they were the richest and they thought they owned the water.”

He pointed out that the water concession agreement considered water as a mere commodity and not part of the country’s natural resources.

“We surrendered sovereignty on that, because in the contract they gave, water is just a commodity. It is not part of the natural resource of the country, which is really a crooked way of interpreting the Constitution,” the President said.

He also slammed the water firms for imposing environmental charges on consumers without constructing water treatment facilities, and for wanting the government to compensate them for their losses.

“This is a fucking contract. I will not pay. On the other hand, I’ll go after them. I’m a lawyer, one look and I knew it was wrong. And you lawyers, if you have a copy, if you put it side by side with Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, you can check. Everything that the law cites as illegal, it’s there in the contract,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President insisted that there was nothing to renegotiate in the 1997 water concession agreement, which the Department of Justice described as having “onerous” provisions.

“My colleagues in the Cabinet said we should renegotiate. I said there is nothing to negotiate in a contract that is null and void from the very beginning. Because in that contract, the Philippines agreed to waive sovereignty. You cannot do it,” he said.

In his second speech at the Cor Jesu College in Digos City, Davao del Sur, the President said he was open to renegotiating it, but he would still push through with the filing of charges against the water firms.

“We can negotiate it, but I will file cases against you. We will negotiate because it is your equipment, but if you threaten me that you will stop operations, I don’t think it will succeed,” he said.

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TAGS: Ayala, big fish, corruption, duterte, Manny Pangilinan, MVP
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