Duterte offers new concession deals to Maynilad, Manila Water

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2020   •   596

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has offered water companies, Maynilad and Manila Water, new concession deals that will replace existing agreements with provisions that are allegedly disadvantageous to the government and the public, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president made the offer after the Department of Justice and Office of the Solicitor General presented the new contracts during their Cabinet meeting on Monday night.

Panelo said the new concession contracts do not contain the supposedly onerous provisions in the existing contracts which were signed in 1997.

“The Chief executive is giving the water concessionaires the option of accepting the new contracts without any guarantee of not being criminally prosecuted together with those who conspired to craft the very onerous contracts which are void ab initio for violating the constitution and the laws of the land,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing.

Should Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the new contracts, Panelo said Duterte will order the cancellation of their current concession deals, and prosecute all those behind the crafting of the 1997 water agreement.

He would also order for the nationalization of water services in their respective areas of operation.

“Should Maynilad and Manila Water refuse to accept the new agreements, the Chief Executive will order the cancellation of their present water contracts, mandate the nationalization of water services in their respective areas of operation and prosecute all those involved, directly or indirectly, in the arrangement that led to the present suffering of the Filipino people,” Panelo said.

In a statement, Maynilad said it has yet to receive a copy of the revised agreement. It also gave reassurance of continuing cooperation amid its contract woes.

Manila Water has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Duterte did not provide a deadline to the water concessionaires about his offer.

The water firms’ woes came after Duterte assailed the two Metro Manila water concessionaires for allegedly taking advantage of the ‘onerous, lopsided’ contracts to “milk” Filipinos by the billions.

The chief executive earlier 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.

But the two firms in December said they will no longer pursue the awards, and assured cooperation as the present government reviews the provisions in the agreements. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH state of calamity due to COVID-19 crisis extended for one year

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday extended the period of the state of calamity declared in the country due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1021, which was signed on Sept. 16, Duterte extended the state of calamity declaration for one year, effective Sept. 13, 2020 to Sept. 12, 2021 “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

The president first declared the Philippines under a state of calamity on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it already expired as it was only for a period of six months.

Duterte said the extension will effectively afford the national government, as well as local government units, ample latitude to continue utilizing appropriate funds, including Quick Response Funds, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He added that it would also help in monitoring and controlling prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and provide basic services to the affected populations.

The chief executive also enjoined government agencies and local government units to “continue rendering full assistance to and cooperation with each other and mobilize necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate disaster response aid and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the threat of COVID-19.”

Duterte also directed the military and other law enforcement agencies to “continue undertaking all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to extend PH state of calamity declaration amid pandemic – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to extend the declaration of a state of calamity in the country amid the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Thursday, September 17.

The Philippines is under a six-month state of calamity declared by Duterte last March 16 as he placed Luzon under community quarantine to curb the spread of the virus.

The declaration enabled the government to use quick response funds to deal with the public health crisis.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a document on the extension has already been forwarded to the Office of the President and is expected to be signed by Duterte.

“Definitely, it’s in the desk of the president, probably signed by now,” he said.

The country has so far recorded a total of 276,289 COVID-19 cases, of which 63,408 are active.

The total number of reported recoveries is at 208,096 while the number of fatalities is 4,785. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders gov’t agencies to produce, distribute free face masks to poor Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed several government agencies to coordinate and pool their resources for the production and distribution of face masks amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under Memorandum Order No. 49 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and issued Wednesday, Duterte directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to lead other government agencies for the initiative.

These agencies include the Department of Health (DOH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).

Among the tasks of the DTI is to consolidate the efforts of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) as well as cooperatives and community organizations for the production of face masks.

The DTI is also directed to support TESDA in gaining access to production networks and supplier markets for raw materials and finished products.

The DTI will also coordinate with the DOH to determine the minimum, most cost-efficient and good quality specifications to ensure that the face masks are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The DBM will help in the procurement of face masks while the DSWD will be tapped to identify beneficiaries and distribute the government-procured masks to financially disadvantaged and persons with disability, as well as those enrolled under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.

The PMS will monitor the distribution and consolidate a report to be submitted to the president.

Other government agencies and state-run companies were also directed to cooperate and support the program.

“It is imperative to reinforce non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as minimizing face-to-face interaction, wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing social distancing to complement our healthcare facilities and support our health workers in containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the memorandum read. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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