Palace: Duterte to take a 3-day break

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019   •   357

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte will be having a three-day break beginning Tuesday (November 12), according to Malacañang.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) clarified that it will not be an official leave since the president will still be doing his paperwork. The president will fly home to Davao Monday night.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will be the officer-in-charge of the Executive branch while Duterte rests, according to Panelo

“Well upon the advice of friends, of colleagues, and the world, it seems. And most likely upon the advice of doctors also to take a respite from his punishing schedule,” he said.

Panelo clarified there are no medical concerns that prompted the three-day break.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns water concessionaires: I will order the AFP to take over

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 13, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Maynilad and Manila Water that he will order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take over water distribution operations.

“I will order the Armed Forces to operate the water, ‘Sige, sundalo, take over kayo’ (Soldiers, go take over). And I will declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus but only against economic sabotage,” he said during the birthday celebration of former Senator Manny Villar on Thursday (December 12).

The Chief Executive has previously threatened the two water concessionaires with “economic sabotage” due to alleged irregular water deals.

In a letter, the two companies revoked their compensation claims prompting the government to pay almost P11 billion, as ordered by an attribution court in Singapore.

They have also offered to revisit the contracts in order to come up with possible amendments.

However, Malacañang said the President is still reviewing the said letter and has yet to decide on his next action on the issue.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has advised the two water concessionaires that the President will strive to enforce the law.

“The concessionaires are put on notice that the Chief Executive will not renege from his constitutional duty of enforcing the law. Neither will he be swayed nor enticed into accepting a compromise. Dura lex sed lex,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte paving the way for allies into the water industry? Nonsense! – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang vehemently denied alleged reason behind President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water.

Reports alleged that the Chief Executive is making a move to place his allies into the water industry.

“That’s nonsense. Si Presidente pa, walang ally-ally kay Presidente (That’s nonsense. Knowing the President, he doesn’t care for allies),” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The President earlier warned to file charges of economic sabotage against the two firms and their cohorts who were behind what he calls as onerous water concession agreements.

Such was his reaction after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore favored the water concessionaires against the government, ordering it to pay billions for not approving water rate increase under the previous administration.

The Palace scrutinized what seemed to be ‘unfair’ provisions of the water concession agreement including allegations that the government was giving the water concessionaires a cold shoulder and the intent to extend the agreement up to 2037 even prior to the contract’s expiration.

Malacañang opened the idea of a possible government take over only to ensure that water distribution service would not be cut in case none in the private sector intends to handle it.

“Initially government muna then most likely after that there will be biddings for a private company to take over,” Panelo said.

It was in 1997 when the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) signed water concession contracts with Manila Water Services Inc. and Maynilad.

It was a decision made after the government-owned facility delivered poor services and only a few investors were willing to invest their billions in improving the facility’s services which, Manila Water and Maynilad accepted through a bidding. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Palace says gov’t won’t pay damages to Manila Water, Maynilad

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday insisted that the government will not pay any damages sought by the concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water, for the losses they incurred from the rejected petition for rate hikes.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government will not comply with the arbitration court’s decisions as the concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water were onerous.

“Hindi, kasi nga onerous ang kontrata. Masyadong disadvantageous sa gobyerno,” Panelo said in an interview with radio station dzXL.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to file economic sabotage raps against the water concessionaires and other officials involved in the crafting of the deals following the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore’s order to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, and Maynilad P3.6 billion about two years ago as compensation for losses or damages.

The two water firms separately took the government to court after the MWSS rejected their respective petitions to raise water rates a few years ago. The firms cited its concession deal which prohibits the government from setting water rates, and pushes for indemnification for possible losses in the event of such government interference.

Instead of paying indemnity, Panelo said the president has ordered for the drafting of new water concession deals with provisions that are advantageous to the public.

The presidential spokesman also said that the chief executive has already directed the Department of Justice to file appropriate charges against those behind the contracts which were signed in 1997.

READ: Manila Water to work closely with gov’t for ‘acceptable scheme’ on arbitral award

“The President has also directed the filing of the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the said agreements including the latter’s owners and legal counsels, as well as agents and lawyers of the government for economic sabotage,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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