Duterte to press raps vs water firms
It’s not an empty threat.
President Rodrigo Duterte is keeping his word to press criminal charges against the billionaire-owners of Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. for allegedly shortchanging their customers and the government, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Thursday.
Manila Water, which services the eastern portion of Metro Manila, is owned by the Ayalas while Maynilad, the water concessionaire in the western part of the metropolis, is controlled by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Panelo said the President was serious in issuing the threats, claiming the contracts that were granted to Maynilad and Manila Water by the Ramos administration in 1997 flouted the antigraft law.
“If the President promised to do something, he will surely make good on it,” Panelo said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“Remember that the President is the chief enforcer of laws and that is his duty. He would be reneging from his duty if he does not do that,” he said.
“The very evidence (of their offense) is the contract itself. Didn’t he say that it mirrors the provisions of the antigraft (law)? All they did were in violation of the antigraft (law),” he added.
On Monday, Mr. Duterte said he would send to jail Pangilinan and Manila Water chair Fernando Zobel de Ayala for committing “economic plunder” and “syndicated estafa” by implementing the alleged onerous provisions of the concessionaire contracts that two private firms had secured from the government.
“To those asking where are the big fish in corruption, I will deliver to you … Ayala and Pangilinan … I want billionaires inside the prison,” the President said in his usual expletive-laden speech in M’lang, North Cotabato.
“If those fools committed a mistake, I will really send them behind bars. Look. They have not been responding after I insulted them. They will surely be jailed for syndicated estafa,” he warned.