“You have to return the money to the people... That's it and I'm okay. You can have your contracts if it is to your liking. If it's not then we proceed to another phase which is really the filing of cases,” Duterte said.
Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez
Metro Manila water deals finally up for Duterte review
Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - June 5, 2020 - 1:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — It’s not forgive and forget for President Duterte, who said on Friday that the review of water contracts held by private concessionaires in Metro Manila will continue as planned.

“Starting tomorrow, I think the papers are with me now, I will review the contracts that are proposed by the government panel to the Ayala and Pangilinan consortium,” Duterte said in a televised meeting with Cabinet officials.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told Philstar.com in a text message that “the committee reviewing the water concession agreements will submit its final recommendations to the president this month.” 

The finance department, which coordinated with the Asian Development Bank that reviewed the new contracts, did not respond to queries.

The outcome of the contract review would determine whether Ayala-led Manila Water Company Inc. and Pangilinan-owned Maynilad Water Services Inc. would remain as water distributors of the National Capital Region as well as neighboring areas in Bulacan and Cavite.

But should negotiations collapse and the two water providers refuse to adhere to the government’s conditions. Duterte said there is no other choice but to go to court to settle the row, a departure from his previous pronouncements that he would instead nationalize the water distribution systems. 

“You have to return the money to the people... That's it and I'm okay. You can have your contracts if it is to your liking. If it's not then we proceed to another phase which is really the filing of cases,” he pointed out.

Before his latest pronouncements, Duterte appeared to have buried the hatchet with the two firms last April after he said sorry for his attacks late last year over water shortages in Metro Manila. 

At the time, the president said sorry for the “hurtful words” he threw against the companies for asking compensation over water rate hikes that an international arbitration ruled should have pushed through years ago, but didn’t.

Duterte refused to pay up the companies, and instead unilaterally cancelled the extension of their contracts granted before his term in 2008. As a result, from original contracts running until 2037, Manila Water and Maynilad only have until 2022 to run their distribution facilities unless contract reviews would turn in their favor.

Shares in Manila Water rallied 2.62% to end trading at P12.54 apiece to cap the week on Friday. Maynilad’s owner Metro Pacific Investments Corp. also ended up 2.11% at P3.38 each.

MANILA WATER CO. INC MAYNILAD WATER SERVICES INC RODRIGO DUTERTE
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