Duterte: Concession agreements with water firms are 'economic plunder'

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2019 09:02 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said that he will not compromise with Maynilad and Manila Water until he talks to the people behind the controversial 1997 water concession agreements.

“Kaya gusto ko silang makausap. Hindi ito maareglo hangga’t hindi ko makausap yung mga concessionaire. Gusto ko harap ang abogado ng gobyerno na p*t*ng*n*ng gumawa ng kontrata na ito,” Duterte said in his speech during the oathtaking of newly appointed Generals and Flag Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Star Rank Officers of the Philippine National Police in Malacañang.

The President made the statement as the Department of Justice announced that it is working to revise the concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water after they found several "onerous" provisions in the deals.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a radio interview over the weekend, was quoted as saying that the President wants the concession agreements modified first before looking into any settlement with the two companies.

In his speech, Duterte continued to rail against the water concessionaires, as he described the 1997 agreements as a classic case of economic plunder.

“Kaya sabi ko ah paano mo, paano mo --- how --- paano mo aregluhin ‘yan ngayon? They say na, “aregluhin natin.” How? How will I compromise? It’s plunder. That is the classic economic plunder. How can now I tell the people as President: Adre, p**, aregluhin na lang natin ‘to. Tell me. Tell me those f*****... Tell me kung papaano ko sabihin sa tao?” Duterte said.

The President also claimed that the water companies have cheated the public of trillions of pesos for passing corporate income tax payments to the consumers and for their failure to establish wastewater treatment facilities

“Trillion ‘to, sobra. The fact alone that all these years we were paying a fee para sa water treatment but it’s never came into being all these years. Then corporate income tax was passed on to the Filipino people,” Duterte said.

The President last week threatened to pursue economic sabotage charges against the water distributors as he claimed that Filipinos were being "milked by billions."