MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he would review the renegotiated water distribution contracts of the Ayala and Pangilinan groups.
Duterte said he was "ok" with the new Manila Water and Maynilad contracts as long as "the people get their money back." He earlier criticized the deals as disadvantageous to the public.
"I will be, starting tomorrow. I think the papers are here with me now, I will review the contracts that are proposed by the government panel to the Ayala and the Pangilinan consortium," Duterte said in a televised address.
"Ako, ok na ko, basta mabawi lang ng pera ang tao even in installments sa ano ninyo but you have to make some amends. Nagkalma ako kasi whether I like it or not, water is very important in our lives," he added.
(I am fine as long as the people will get their money back, even in installment but you have to make amends. I calmed down because whether I like it or not, water is very important in our lives)
The Ayala Group operates Manila Water Co while Metro Pacific Investments Corp and DMCI Holdings Inc are in charge of Maynilad Services Inc. Manila Water recently took in ports billionaire Enrique Razon as investor.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President was referring to water concessions under renegotiation, in response to a question from ABS-CBN News.
The Philippine government refused to pay P3.4 billion to Maynilad and P7.4 billion to Manila Water as ordered by a Singapore-based Permanent Court of Arbitration for losses incurred due to denied rate increases. Both concessionaires waived the claims.
"Ok na lang ako but yung nawala sa tao, kung ano ang nawala sa kanila, that has to be paid back. Whether installments over a period of years but you have to return the money to the people," Duterte said.
(I am fine but what the people lost should be paid back)
"Just give us a contract that is fair and also the return of the money of the people. Equity and fairness requires it. We should return the money," he added.
Pangilinan and the Ayalas can agree to the contract "if it is to your liking" but if they don't, the government will proceed with the second phase or the filing of cases, Duterte said.
Duterte reiterated his apology to the businessmen for the "cuss words" he uttered at them.