By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has dispelled speculations that President Rodrigo Duterte is allegedly seeking to install his own oligarch to run the water distribution operations in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President has railed against the contracts sealed with Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Company, Inc. due to their supposedly onerous provisions, and not because he wanted to pass the business to his allies.
“Oh no, definitely not! The main point here is that we should not be entering into onerous contracts,” Andanar said in a television interview on Thursday.
On rumors that the Villar family might take over the water operations from the two concessionaires, Andanar said: “I don’t think so. I think the purpose here is to send the message to both Maynilad and Manila Water that the President is not accepting this kind of reasoning and this kind of onerous contract.”
In opposing the allegedly irregular water deals, Andanar explained Duterte has demonstrated his zero tolerance stand on corruption. No one will be spared from scrutiny under the President’s campaign against corruption in government transactions with the business sector, he added.
“This is in fact, doing the business community a favor by telling them that there is no room for corruption in our business industry and under the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he said.
“There are no sacred cows. You’ve been asking for big fish, and there you go,” he said.
Duterte recently expressed outrage over the allegedly onerous and disadvantageous water concession agreements with the two companies, threatening to sue them for plunder and expropriate the water operations.
The two companies have offered to revisit the water contracts and drop their compensation claims following Duterte’s tirade.
Given these developments, the Palace recently said the President would study the practical and legal consequences of the situation before deciding on the next course of action.
Duterte also wanted to speak first with all the lawyers involved in the preparation, negotiation, and drafting of the present concession agreements and “determine the reason why they allowed the incorporation of onerous provisions.”