President Rodrigo Duterte says he is “okay” with signing water concession agreements with Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services as long as they return the money they owe their customers.
He made the statement during a Cabinet meeting in Davao city Thursday night, saying he would review the recommendations on the water concession agreements of both groups.
“Starting tomorrow—I think the papers are with me now—I will review the contracts proposed by the government panel to the Ayala and Pangilinan consortiums,” Duterte said.
“I’m good so long as the people’s money is returned, even in installments. But you have to make some amends.”
Duterte, meanwhile, warned government officials, including his Cabinet, against people dropping his name for any project or transaction, saying they should just turn them away.
“If your business is legal, why would you use my name?”
Duterte said he needed to be calm because, “whether I like it or not, water is very important in our lives.
“So I have to be okay with that, but the money taken from the people has to be paid back—whether in installments over a period of years.
“Just give us a contract that is fair and return the money of the people.”
Manila Water is a subsidiary of Ayala Corp., while Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corp. owns a controlling stake in Maynilad.
Duterte had ordered the crafting of new concession deals with the two water companies after describing the current agreements with them as “disadvantageous” to Filipinos.
He said should the water firms reject the new contracts without the “onerous” provisions, the government would take over the distribution of water.
Duterte last year warned he would take the two water concessionaires to court for their allegedly onerous agreements with the government.
His tiff with Ayala and Pangilinan began after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore, in separate rulings, compelled the Philippines to pay P7.39 billion and P3.4 billion, respectively, to Manila Water and Maynilad for the supposed losses and damage suffered by the two firms.
But Ayala and Pangilinan have since expressed readiness to cooperate with the government.