By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said that he will look into the contract of the Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT) with the government next as he expressed anew his frustration over the onerous contract between the government and two water distribution companies in Metro Manila.
In a speech in Davao City Friday evening, Duterte said he will check LRT contract next where the private component involves the Ayala family and a corporation owned by Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Manila Water is one of the subsidiaries of conglomerate Ayala Corporation, while Maynilad is a company where Pangilinan is chairman.
“Karami na nilang pera, sobra-sobra na. Getting most of the contract, LRT. Merong — silipin ko. Meron man pala sila sa LRT (They have a lot of money. Getting most of the contract including the LRT. They have one with the LRT. I’ll look into it),” he said.
“Marami ‘yan silang pinasukan sa gobyerno. Pero (They entered into many contracts with the government but) this one (water issue) is really the biggest rip-off of all. And that contract was never shown to the Filipino people,” he added.
The LRT is being jointly operated by the government’s Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC). The LRMC is a consortium of three major infrastructure companies: Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corporation; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation; and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.
President Duterte vowed last week to correct all prejudicial government contracts with private entities after he found that the government’s deal with Maynilad and Manila Water was lopsided.
He also remained unfazed despite concerns about foreign investors starting to become uncertain because of his remarks.
“The thought that they will be getting out of the Philippines, fine, be my guest. I will not be intimidated or even fear the possibility of reduced investment in this country. What I’m after for is justice for the Filipino people,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
“For all I care, they can all withdraw but I still have to maintain what’s a matter of dignity for us,” he added.
Duterte advised Maynilad and Manila Water to accept the new distribution agreement crafted by the government or risk a takeover of their businesses.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he was not really one to curse at someone in public, but if he did so, then the object of his dismay deserved it.
According to the President, the issue on the onerous water contracts really angered him and caused him to be even more disappointed with the rich people in the country.
“I’m not the type na magmura sa — murahin ka sa publiko. Kaya kung mag-p***** ako diyan, galit ako, you deserve it (I’m not the type to curse someone out in public so if I cuss, it means I am angry and you deserve it),” he said in his speech Friday.
Duterte said the oligarchs were boldly taking advantage of the public because they think they could control everything.
“Alam mo kung bakit? Bakit malakas loob nila? Akala nila they’d always control Philippine politics. Akala nila lahat ng presidente [kaya nila] (Do you know why they are so brazen? They think they’d always control Philippine politics. The think they can control every president),” he said.
Earlier, Duterte said the rich in the country will not have a problem with him as long as they have a social conscience.
He also explained that he was cursing out the elite in public because he was only looking out for the welfare of the Filipino people. He likewise claimed that it was the elite who always had the final say on almost anything.
“Hindi ako galit sa mga mayaman (I’m not mad at the rich people). But usually or historically it has always been the oligarchs ‘yung sa taas. Mamili sila ng presidente, ng kandidato, ‘pag nandoon na puro pabor, pabor, pabor (at the top. They choose the president and other candidates and once they are seated, they always ask for favors),” Duterte said in a speech last week.