(DECEMBER 13, 2019) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday threatened a military takeover of water firms Manila Water and Maynilad over the “onerous” water concession deals, even warning of warrantless arrests against “economic saboteurs.”
Duterte made the pronouncement during the birthday dinner of former senator Manny Villar, recounting his remarks in front of members the Presidential Security Group on Wednesday.
“Sinabi ko sa kanila, ‘huwag ninyo akong paglaruan at takut-takutin. Sige magsibat kami, bahala kayo wala kayong tubig.’ I will order the Armed Forces to operate… Sige sundalo take over kayo,” Duterte said.
Dutere also warned of lifting the writ of habeas corpus, but only to effect the arrest of those he described as “economic saboteurs.”
“Gusto kong makita ang mga bilyonaryo na nakakulong. All these years, how many presidents? Where’s the big fish? O ito, buwaya na itong pu******* itong dalawa,” he said.
In separate letters to the president, both Manila Water and Maynilad expressed their intention to forego the almost P11 billion from government awarded by an international tribunal in Singapore.
READ ALSO: ON ARBITRAL RULING | Maynilad, Manila Water will no longer ask gov’t to pay
Duterte also said he was firm in his decision not to talk to the water concessionaires. Instead, he said they should approach instead Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Emmanuel Salamat, a retired military general.
“I’m not talking; you go to Salamat,” he said. “Mag-usap kayo, bahala kayo riyan. Ako? I’ll just prepare the charges,” said Duterte.
If industry regulator MWSS and the two concessionaries would not agree to terms, Duterte said the firms can be charged with “economic plunder.”
The MWSS on Wednesday announced it has revoked the 2009 deal extending the water concession with the two distributors until 2037.
But it seems not all hope is lost for the concessionaires.
On Friday, the MWSS clarified that it is not shutting out Manila Water and Maynilad out of the picture. Salamat said the extension of the water concession deal has not been outrightly revoked, only the board resolution outlining the terms for the extension.
“Linawin lang natin. Hindi natin sinasabi na hanggang 2022 na lang sila.
It’s a subject for renegotiation. Kaya mga revocation of the terms
of extension ‘yung resolution… so ‘yung extension up to 2022 will be
a subject for renegotiation. So hindi natin sinasabi per se na tapos na sila,” Salamat said. (Randell Ritumalta/JMF)