Duterte considers expropriating water operations
By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he will expropriate the operation of water facilities if he is not satisfied with the explanation of water concessionaires and government lawyers on the supposed onerous water concession agreements.
In a speech in Malacañang, Duterte said if water concessionaire owners and government lawyers refused to face him to explain how they crafted the water concession deal, he would make them do so by force.
“Kaya di ko talaga malaman kung paano ko bibirahin ‘to (I don’t know how i would deal with this) because I want everybody…yung mga abogado diyan noon, kung ayaw ninyo pumunta dito e di (those lawyers there before, if they won’t face me here) I will drag them,” Duterte said.
“Then if you will force my hand, I will throw my last card. Ayaw ninyo? O sige, gusto ninyo daanin sa (You don’t want to face me? Okay, you want to do this the hard way)…then I will suspend this writ of habeas corpus at hihilahin kayo (and drag you down),” he added.
He earlier threatened to sue Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services for economic sabotage over certain irregularities on water deals.
If he would not be satisfied with their explanation, the President said he would expropriate the operations of these water facilities.
“Pag hindi ako ma-satisfy (If I’m not satisfied), I will expropriate everything. Kunin ko lahat (I’ll get everything back),” he added.
Meanwhile, Duterte called on military and police personnel anew to run after corrupt practices including the water concession deal if he fails to finish the end of his term in 2022.
“Wag ninyo bitawan ‘yan. I’m not saying go into rebellion. Sabihin niyo lang (Just say),’ we want to talk with you’. ‘Wag kalimutan ang Pilipino (Don’t forget the Filipinos),” he said.
In October, Duterte said he could use “extraordinary powers of the presidency” take over water operations should the looming water crisis turn into a national emergency.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo pointed out that any situation arising that will endanger and peril the safety of the people could allow the President to take over.
Panelo was referring to Article 12, Section 17 of the Constitution which states that: “In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest”.
Duterte’s tiff with water concessionaires and government lawyers began after the government was ordered by the Singapore arbitration court to pay Maynilad about PHP3.6 billion in damages for the company’s losses over the refusal to implement tariff adjustment for 2013 to 2017.
Recently, the court also asked government to pay PHP7.4 billion to the Ayala-led Manila Water as compensation for losses and damages from delayed water rate increases since 2015.
The President refused to pay this amount, saying he would file economic sabotage cases against all involved in the crafting of the water deals. (PNA)