Duterte orders filing of 'economic sabotage' charges vs water firms
In this March 22, 2019 photo, a man closes a water meter in Philcoa, Quezon City.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File
Duterte orders filing of 'economic sabotage' charges vs water firms
(Philstar.com) - December 4, 2019 - 5:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the government's agreements with Manila Water and Maynilad.

The directive came days after a Singapore-based arbitration panel ordered the Philippine government to pay Ayala-led Manila Water P7.4 billion for losses it suffered from non-implementation of water hikes from June 2015 to November 2019.

Citing the constitution, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo stressed that the state own all natural resources of the Philippines, including water.

"It is indisputable that water is intended for the use, enjoyment and welfare of the citizens. The use and delivery of water is impressed with public interest hence it is but a privilege and therefore must not be abused," Panelo said in a statement Wednesday.

Malacañang accused water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad of abusing the arrangement of delivering and distributing water and making it a money-making venture instead of treating it as public service.

According to Panelo, a review of the government's agreements with the water concessionaires showed that the deals were contrary to public policy and public interest, as well as being "onerous and disadvantageous" to the people.

Duterte directed the filing of economic sabotage charges against the owners and legal counsels of the water concessionaires, as well as agents and lawyers of the government involved in crafting the deals.

"It is apparent that some members of the government have not only looked the otehr way, but have in fact purposely guided the hands of those who have raped our economy for their own personal aggrandisement," Panelo said.

The president also vowed to go after officials who backed the contracts with the water concessionaires, which he called "tagilid" or lopsided.

Duterte has also ordered the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General to draft new water concession agreements. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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