By Divine DL Cruz Manila Times
President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to enter into any agreement with the Manila Water Co and Maynilad Water Services Inc, maintaining that the water firms committed “economic plunder.”
“They said they wanted to talk, there’s a folder there. No, I will not talk. I want to talk to all the people, all the lawyers,” Duterte said.
“There will be no negotiations until I talk to the concessionaires and all those lawyers behind these contracts,” he added.
The president slammed the “onerous” provisions in the concession agreements that would hold the government liable for the billions of pesos incurred by the companies.
“It’s like this. They fix the rate for the people of the Philippines. We surrender that sovereignty to them. They will be the one to raise rates. When they raised the rates we didn’t concur immediately, so they incurred losses. We paid P3bn. During my time, I don’t know what losses, now it’s P7bn,” Duterte said.
He said that “trillions” have been “stolen” from the people through unfinished water treatment facilities and the corporate income taxes that have been passed on to the consumers.
“The fact alone that all these years we were paying a fee for water treatment but it never came into being all these years. Then corporate income tax was passed on to the Filipino people,” Duterte said.
“How are we going to settle that? How will I compromise? That’s plunder. That is the classic economic plunder,” he added. The chief executive also slammed the renewal of the contract even before the contract expired.
“The contract is supposed to expire 2037,” Duterte said.
Sen. Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd said the government should disregard the deal forged between the Arroyo administration and the two water firms. The supply contract with Maynilad and Manila Water is valid until 2022. But the Arroyo government extended the agreement to 2037.
The senator however, said “the (Arroyo) administration could not tie the hands of the Duterte administration.”
“All I am trying to say is that the extension can be disregarded by the present administration because although signed, it is not yet being implemented,” he said.
“It is not yet implementable because we are still in 2019 within the lifetime of the original contract. Is there anyone who extends the validity of a contract in the middle of the original lifetime of the contract?” he stressed.
“The government should make it clear that they’re now disregarding, revoking the extension, but honouring the existing agreement up to 2022. Then start the process by 2020, 2021 of looking for new concessionaires, announcing before the search the new terms of the concession agreement,” he said.
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