DOJ Secretary to serve as OIC from June 21-23

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 21, 2019   •   916

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra will serve as the officer-in-charge of the Executive Department from June 21-23 as President Rodrigo Duterte flies to Thailand.

President Duterte will be attending the 34th Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, Thailand.

While the president is away, Guevarra will oversee the day to day operations of the Executive Department.

Duterte’s delegation will fly en route to Thailand Friday afternoon (June 21)

DOJ denies conflict of interest in review of water concession deals

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday denied allegations of conflict of interest in the ongoing review of the water concession deal between the government of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The allegations surfaced following news reports that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was part of the team that reviewed the water supply agreements.

Aglipay-Villar is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, whose family owns the Prime Water Infrastructure Corporation, one of the utility firms that may possibly become a player to replace Maynilad and Manila Water when their contract ends in 2022.

Guevarra said he does not know where these kinds of allegations came from. He also said that he led the review of water deals.

“Siyempre as SOJ, ako ang head ng review team at ginagamit ko diyan, nag-assist ng review, naturally legal staff ng DOJ. Sa office ng state counsel so sila ang nag-review niyan with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. So, yung units na yun, nagkataon lang under the supervision ni Usec. Emmeline Villar kasi may mga distribution ng work ng ng mga usecs ng DOJ,” he told reporters in an event in Manila Thursday morning.

Guevarra said the DOJ team found onerous provisions in the contracts signed in 1997 and recommended its removal as well as the crafting of new deal that would be advantageous to the public.

“Believe me when I say that any good lawyer will see the inequitable provisions in the water concession agreements, and the fact the Usec. Emmeline Villar is part of the DOJ review team is totally irrelevant,” he said.

Aglipay-Villar, a former congresswoman, also denied the allegations, adding that the DOJ conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements.  – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Revised water concession deal out before year-end – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said it is now forming an inter-agency team which is tasked to come up with a revised version of water concession agreement before the end of the year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the composite team is comprised of lawyers from various government agencies, including the DOJ, Department of Finance, Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We are still forming our team. We will come up with a government version of the concession agreement. So, we’ll hopefully come up with a revised version of the water concession agreement that does not include the onerous and what is considered illegal provisions,” Guevarra said.

“Hopefully, before the year is over, we can have one,” he added.

The DOJ chief said the panel will thoroughly review the provisions stated in the water supply deals with Manila Water and Maynilad, and revise those that are disadvantageous to the public.

“We are just trying to remove the provisions which should be removed because these are not favorable to the people, to the consuming public,” he said.

“We’ll do it within the government first. Once we are ready with our version of what a good water concession agreement should be, that’s the time we will sit down with the water concessionaires,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

The Palace earlier insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Guevarra said the government may opt to take over if private water firms will stop distributing water in Metro Manila due to the problem. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Duterte grants P10,000 service recognition incentives for some gov’t workers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the granting of a service recognition incentive (SRI) of up to P10,000 each for qualified employees of the national government.

In Administrative Order no. 19, signed on Dec. 2, Duterte said the incentive will be given to deserving government employees to recognize their “collective and unceasing participation in and invaluable contribution to the administration’s continuing efforts toward the establishment of streamlined government processes and more responsive delivery of public services.”

Those qualified for the incentives include civilian personnel in national government agencies, including those in state universities and colleges, and government-owned or -controlled corporations, occupying regular, contractual or casual positions, and military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Department of National Defense.

Also qualified to receive the incentive are uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Bureau of Corrections under the Department of Justice, the Philippine Coast Guard under the Department of Transportation, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The grant of the incentive shall be subject to following conditions: civilian personnel occupying regular, contractual, or casual positions; personnel still in the government service as of Nov. 30, and personnel who have rendered at least four months of service as of Nov. 30.

The order also stated that employees who have rendered less than four months of service as of Nov. 30 are entitled to a pro-rated share of the SRI; and employees who have not received any additional year-end benefit in Fiscal Year 2019 over and above the benefit authorized under Republic Act No. 6686, are also entitled to receive the SRI.

The incentive is on top of the P60,000 bonus that Duterte announced earlier for the employees of the Office of the President.

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