Duterte to pursue syndicated estafa raps vs ‘billionaires’ over water deals
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will make good his word to file syndicated estafa charges against the chairpersons of Manila Water and Maynilad over alleged “onerous” water concession deals.
“Pag sinabi ni Presidente tutuluyan niya ‘yan,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing Thursday.
Fernando Zobel de Ayala is the chairman of Manila Water, while Manuel Pangilinan is the chairman of Maynilad.
Ayala and Pangilinan have earned the ire of Duterte over the 1997 water deal between the government, Maynilad, and Manila Water, which he called as onerous.
Duterte, in his December 30 speech in North Cotabato, said the two water companies qualify for syndicated estafa.
“If they commit another mistake, I will put them in jail. See, even how I will insult them they are not responding. I will jail them for syndicated estafa,” Duterte told earthquake victims in M’lang town.
Asked if the President has substantive evidence in filing the case, Panelo said, “the very evidence is the contract itself.”
“Sinasabi niya it mirrors the provisions of the Anti-Graft. Lahat ng mga ginawa nila labag sa Anti-Graft (He [Duterte] is saying it [water deals] mirrors the provisions of the Anti-Graft Law. All they did was against the Anti-Graft law,” Panelo said.
As president, Panelo said Duterte is the chief enforcer of laws, and he will be reneging from his duty if he will not do as the law says.
In separate decisions, the Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ordered the Philippine government in 2017 to pay P3.6 billion to Maynilad, and, in November, to compensate P7 billion to Manila Water for losses suffered by the water firms due to disallowed water rate increases from 2013 to 2017.
The President has said he would never pay the amount, saying the Filipinos were being milked by the billions” with the onerous deals.
Maynilad and Manila Water had said they would no longer collect P10.8 billion in compensation.
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