Usec. Villar inhibits from review of water deals

Maris Federez   •   December 13, 2019   •   303

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar will not be joining the team that will review the contract entered into by the government with Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services through state regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1997.

Villar on Friday (December 13) inhibited herself to dispel doubts and suspicions on the review to be conducted and the renegotiation of the government with the two water concessionaires.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was the one who requested Villar to inhibit from the review although he deemed it unfair that the official is being subjected to allegations of conflict of interest.

“I requested Usec. Villar to inhibit herself to dispel suspicions that the DOJ contract review may not be completely objective due to an alleged possible conflict of interest. It’s unfair to Usec Villar who has always acted with professionality, but the circumstances call for it.,” Guevarra told reporters.

Guevarra reiterated that any lawyer who would look into the contract between the MWSS and the two water concessionaires would come to the same findings and conclusion — that the deal had been onerous for the government and the public.

Villar, a former Diwa Party-list representative and daughter of former national police chief Edgar Aglipay, is the wife of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. Villar’s family runs Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. — /mbmf

Villar denies family is interested in taking over Metro Manila water distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar has denied allegations that his family has interest in taking over the water distribution sector in Metro Manila.

When asked during a press briefing at Malacañang, Villar responded, “No.”

“I’m not in any position to answers questions regarding those I have no involvement,” he added.

Villar’s family owns the PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation, which provides water supply in several provinces.

President Rodrigo Duterte has warned Maynilad and Manila Water that he would revoke the present water contracts if they refuse to agree with the new terms presented by the government.

Panelo to recommend review of UP-Ayala Technohub contract to Pres. Duterte

Maris Federez   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to also review the contract of the University of the Philippines-Diliman with the Ayala Land Incorporated for the conversion of a UP lot into UP-Ayala Land Technohub.

Panelo said that a study has come to his attention showing the very low lease amount that the Ayala group is paying to UP.

A number of business outsourcing firms, retail areas, campus apartments, and business hotels has occupied the Technohub that is now a popular hangout place in Quezon City.

The Palace official said he will recommend to the president a closer review of the lease contract to check the veracity of the report that the Ayala Land group is only paying UP just a little higher than Php20.00 per square meter for 25 years.

“Only 10.4 billion will be taken by the government at the end of 25 years […] mukhang kawawa na naman ang gobyerno dito,” said Panelo.

He added that should the claim in the report be true, it will cause so much loss for the government.

“Definitely lugi ang gobyerno dito,” he said.

The Ayala group, on the other hand, has denied the allegation of the very low rental fee.

It, however, welcomes whatever review that will be conducted on its lease contract with UP.

Aside from the Technohub, the President has also slammed Manila Water, the water concessionaire company under the Ayala Corporation due to its alleged onerous contract with the government. — (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

DOJ to charge Albayalde, ninja cops over 2013 drug raid in Pampanga

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 17, 2020

Former Philippine National Police chief, General Oscar Albayalde

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of charges against former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde and 12 so-called ninja cops over the 2013 drug raid in Pampanga.

The DOJ has found probable cause to indict Albayalde and 12 others for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In a statement on Thursday (January 16), the DOJ maintained that the said personalities are in “violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations in connection with the official duties of the latter, and for causing any undue injury to any party, including the government.”

Albayalde, however, has been cleared of other charges, such as misappropriating confiscated drugs, falsifying public documents, and failure to prosecute police officers.

The 12 cops, on the other hand, will also be indicted for other charges including bribery, planting of evidence, as well as delay and bungling in the prosecution of drug cases.

The 12 police officers are Police Lt. Col. Rodney Raymundo Louie Juico Baloyo IV, Police Lt. Joven Bagnot De Guzman, Jr., Police Master Sgts. Jules Lacap Maniago, Donald Castro Roque, Ronald Bayas Santos, Rommel Muñoz Vital, Alcindor Mangiduyos Tinio, Eligio Dayos Valeroso, Dante Mercado Dizon; Police Staff Sgts. Dindo Singian Dizon, Gilbert Angeles De Vera, and Romeo Encarnacio Guerrero Jr.

The said officers were allegedly involved in seizing 200 kilos of illegal drugs during an anti-drug operation in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013.

In a statement, Albayalde welcomed the development and is confident that the truth will still prevail.

“I welcome this development as the chance to once and for all clear my name in the proper forum. Finally, I will have my day in court,” he said. “My conscience remains clear, and I am confident that the truth will bear me out in the end.”—AAC

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