Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte simply wants to emulate the strong political will of Ferdinand Marcos when he threatened to arrest the owners of two water firms “one night” if they challenge him in court, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Sunday but that does not mean the Chief Executive will resort to illegal acts.
“What the President meant was, those who should be charged should be charged already. And if there’s probable cause, then the court can issue a warrant of arrest. They will be jailed. But everything will undergo the legal process,” Panelo explained.
He assured that any arrests to be made will be conducted “with the assumption that there is a warrant of arrest.”
“Sometimes, even if there is a warrant of arrest, those who should be arrested are not brought in. Because they have connections in law enforcement or even the President. This time, this won’t be the case,” Panelo added.
“Maybe what he meant was that Ferdinand Marcos had political will. Although the President’s political will is stronger. Maybe that’s what he meant,” Panelo said in an interview on dzIQ.
This was how Panelo made sense of Duterte’s threat to arrest the owners of Maynilad and Manila Water if they try to challenge the new water concession agreement in court.
Earlier this month, the President ordered the crafting of a new deal to replace the 1997 water concession agreement which lawyers deem to be onerous.
He wants Maynilad and Manila Water to accept the new terms. If they reject it, Duterte said he would cancel the existing deal, nationalize water distribution and charge them with economic sabotage, economic plunder and large-scale estafa.
The President has railed against the owners of the water firms as “oligarchs” and the “biggest fish in corruption” for not paying their corporate income tax, for not allowing government to interfere in setting water rates, and for demanding that government compensate them for their losses.
Panelo stressed that the government will make good on the President’s threat to file charges against the Ayala family and Pangilinan, since any acceptance of the new deal won’t make them immune from any charges.
“That will continue. Didn’t the President say that even if they agree, we are not guaranteeing immunity from suit because some people might want to file cases against you. We cannot stop them,” the Palace official said.
However, Panelo welcomed the water firms’ statement that they will be “cooperative” in efforts to resolve the water mess as a “good sign.”