Duterte threatens to file economic sabotage raps over ‘onerous’ water contracts

Robie de Guzman   •   December 4, 2019   •   1098

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to file economic sabotage cases against water concessionaires, Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc., and others involved in the supposedly ‘onerous’ water concession deals.

Duterte said some provisions of the concession contracts of the water firms, which were signed in 1997, are disadvantageous to the public.

He also described the contracts as lopsided, and vowed to go after officials who backed the contracts.

“Bakit pumayag ang mga senador diyan? Marami ‘yan sila, and we will expose them. And I will insist that they will be tried for economic sabotage. ‘Pag di nila tanggapin ang kaso na yan, I will tell the Supreme Court, ‘Now, now is the time that we talk seriously,’” he said in a speech in Malacañang on Tuesday.

“Ito ipafile ko ito, economic sabotage and I will arrest them. Lahat silang mga… Patikim ko sila paano ang buhay ng preso. Kung pati ako isasali nila, sasali ako sa presohan, walang problema yan,” he added.

Duterte did not name the senators whom he would want to be charged with economic sabotage, but in another speech in the Palace, he questioned Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon if he is among those who crafted the contracts.

“I distinctly recall that Drilon said something, ‘Oh President Duterte, do not tinker with that contract because we will end up paying so many billions of pesos,’” he said.

“Senator Drilon, are you one of those who profited from that? I’m asking you. I said I am ready to get out. I am not threatening you, but if I go down, I will bring you with me,” he added.

Duterte issued the threat after questioning the concession agreements entered into by the government agency Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) with the two private firms that prohibited government from setting water rates.

The deals also reportedly contain a provision on indemnity for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

These provisions were cited by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore when it recently ordered the Philippine government 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 president slammed the two companies and other “oligarchs” for treating water a commodity instead of a precious natural resource.

The Chief Executive, at one point, mentioned the Ayala family of Manila Water and Manny Pangilinan whose company has a stake in Maynilad.

“Ang ating tubig ginawang negosyo ng mga tao dito sa Pilipinas. Ang ngayon, ang inabutan natin ang may-ari na ngayon Manila Water, Maynilad, si Ayala pati si Pangilinan,” he said.

“We are being milked by billions and pinapabayad pa tayo ng mga fines and penalties,” he added.

Duterte said he already asked the Department of Finance and the Office of the Solicitor General to craft new concession agreements with water companies which will be advantageous to the public.

“Sabi ko kay (Finance Secretary Carlos) Dominguez pati kay (Solicitor General Jose) Calida, craft a new contract that is really a favorable to public, to government, ibigay mo sa kanila. This is the amended contract. Accept it or nothing to it,” he said.

Duterte earlier ordered the Department of Justice to review the government’s 1997 contract with Maynilad and Manila Water after water service interruptions crippled parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province earlier this year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte dares Robredo to get COVID-19 shot first: ‘Siya ang apurado, siya ang mauna’

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dared Vice President Leni Robredo to get vaccinated first against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) now that China’s Sinovac vaccine has finally arrived in the country.

“Siya man ‘yong apurado, siya ang mauna,” the President said of Robredo during the turn-over of the Sinovac vaccine at Pasay City on Sunday (February 28).

This was the President’s response to the call of Robredo for him to get vaccinated first to boost public confidence in the government’s vaccination efforts.

He said Robredo is more qualified to get vaccinated as she is younger than him.

“Ako, I cannot just decide. She’s young, I am not. I have to defer to my doctor,” the President said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the use of Sinovac vaccine to individuals who are fit and healthy, aged 18 to 59.

According to President Duterte, his doctors are recommending a different brand and he already requested a personal supply of a certain brand of vaccine which he opted not to disclose the name.

“Ako, nanghingi ako personal. Wala silang stock. Nanghingi ako para sa pamilya ko pati sa akin,” he said.

“I don’t know if we would have enough vaccines for everybody. But I think I can accommodate the Cabinet members,” he added.

Malacañang had earlier announced that the President prefers to use the COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm which is another brand from China. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte declares Nov. 2, Dec. 24 & 31 ‘Special working days’ for this year

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation amending some dates that have long been traditional holidays in the country and making them now ‘special working days.’

Under Proclamation No. 1107, the president declared the following days as ‘special working days’ for the year 2021:

  • November 2 – All souls’ day
  • December 24 – Christmas eve
  • December 31 – New Year’s eve

These dates were previously classified as special non-working days under Proclamation No. 986 s. 2020.

“For the country to recover from the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” Duterte said in his order.

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the country’s economy into a slump last year due to a lockdown that affected many businesses and workers.

Duterte designates NBI as sole body to probe PNP-PDEA ‘misencounter’

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the National Bureau of Investigation to be the sole agency to investigate the alleged misencounter between cops and operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Malacañang said Friday.

“Nagdesisyon po ang ating president na tanging NBI lang po ang mag-iimbestiga duon sa putukan na nangyari sa panig ng mga kapulisan at PDEA diyan po sa Quezon City,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The shooting incident involving policemen and PDEA operatives occurred on Wednesday afternoon near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Four individuals – two cops, a PDEA agent and an informant – were killed in the gun battle.

The PNP and PDEA earlier said that a joint Board of Inquiry has been created to look into the incident.

But due to Duterte’s order, the joint probe will have to be discontinued.

“’Yung mga binuong joint panel para imbestigahan yan, na binuo po ng PNP at PDEA ay di na po magtutuloy sa kanilang imbestigahan,” Roque said.

Both PNP and PDEA assured to work with the NBI in compliance with Duterte’s directive. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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