MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Thursday to "correct" all government contracts before he steps down from office as he sought to renegotiate water concession deals covering the Philippine capital.
The chief executive said in an exclusive interview that he ordered the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice to check all of government's existing contracts.
"All contracts that are prejudicial to the Filipino people will be corrected. 'Yan ang maaasahan mo (you can expect that), within the limited time left for me in office, sabi ko, I will correct everything, including contracts that are not to the best interest of the Filipino people," Duterte, whose term ends in 2022, told broadcaster Ted Failon.
Government's contracts with different private firms were put under scrutiny after the President criticized the supposedly onerous agreements with water suppliers Maynilad and Manila Water.
Earlier this week, Duterte said the government would offer new contracts to the 2 water concessionaires that would replace existing deals that "rip off" the public.
Should Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services refuse, Duterte said he would order the cancellation of their existing concessions and the "nationalization of water services" in their respective areas.
"They appear to be enriching themselves at the expense of the Filipino people, and ano ko (my issue) is you agree to this new contract but I cannot give a guarantee that no charges will be filed," Duterte said.
The President previously threatened to file fraud charges against owners of the 2 water companies over the supposed onerous provisions in the current contracts.
Duterte also rejected threats of possible investment losses, saying he is after "justice for Filipino people."
"You thought they will be getting out of the Philippines? Fine, go out, be my guest. I will not be intimidated or even fear of the possibility of reduced investment in this country," he said.
"What I am after for is justice for Filipino people. For all I care, they can all withdraw but I still need to maintain a matter of dignity for us," he added.