MANILA — New proposed contracts for the Philippine capital's water concessionaires are almost done, a Malacañang official said on Thursday, over a year after President Rodrigo Duterte's administration alleged that existing deals "rip off" the public.
Duterte in January last year told Manila Water Co and Maynilad Water Services that they accept the new contracts "with no guarantee that they will not be prosecuted" or otherwise he would "nationalize the water system and prosecute them for plunder or estafa on a large scale."
Agencies that Duterte asked to work out the new proposed agreements are "already within their final stages," said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
"Pagkatapos po n'yan, iyong grupo o 'yung mga nautusan o inatasan ni Pangulong Duterte to renegotiate at finalize these new water concession agreements, they know what to do," he said in a televised press briefing.
"Ang report po kagabi ay halos patapos na, finishing touches na lang po sa agreements na 'yan. Abangan na lang natin ang susunod na developments tungkol d’yan."
(After that, the groups or those tasked by President Duterte to renegotiate and finalize these new water concession agreements, they know what to do. The report last time is that it's almost done, just the finishing touches. Let us just wait for the next developments on that.)
Asked if these would be the deals' final draft, Nograles said, "Parang ganoon na nga."
(It seems like so.)
"Finishing touches na lang... After that, iyong pakikipag-negotiate na," he added.
(There will be just finishing touches. After that, there will be negotiation.)
The Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice are tasked to replace the “constitutionally flawed" concession agreements that "violated every prohibited act under the Anti-Graft Law," the President's chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo had said.
Duterte "cannot, will not, and can never keep a blind eye to this colossal rip-off," Panelo said.
"The Filipinos have lost enormously with the unabated collections by these concessionaires despite the latter's dismal performance in supplying, delivering and distributing water," he added.
Last May, the President apologized to the Ayala family, which owns Manila Water, for attacking them in his past speeches.
"To the Ayalas and to, si Pangilinan, I apologize for the hurting words. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me because if you do not, if you do not want to forgive me, I will undercut you, I will go direct to God," Duterte said in a recorded public address.
Duterte has been criticizing those he calls "oligarchs" since the start of his term.