Duterte to water firms: Give us back money, then we can talk

Credit to Author: The Manila Times| Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2020 12:22:40 +0000

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he was willing to talk to the embattled water concessionaires if they would return the money to the people.

Duterte made the statement on Thursday as he reiterated that the government would not pay a single centavo from the billions of pesos in refund sought by Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.

“So where is the money? Where is the money of the Filipino people? Where is the money of the average Filipino na mahirap na magbabayad (who is having difficulty paying), who pays his water bill and he has to pay because if it will be cut off, it would give him a lot of headache for the day,” Duterte said in his speech during an event in Malacañang.

Iyan ang gusto kong malaman. Saan ang pera ng p***** i** na ‘yan (That is what I want to know. Where is that @#&^%$*)? Give us back the money. Give it back to the people and maybe we can talk about solving your problem. It will not be the problem of this government,” he added.

The President said he was “not afraid that there will be no water because I will just take over and nationalize water in the Philippines.”

“Marami akong sundalo (I have plenty of soldiers)… Most of the generals who have retired are here. Eh ‘di (So) you go there and fix the… Distributor lang ‘yan sila eh (They are just distributors) and yet they have come out to be 10 times, 20 times richer,” Duterte said.

“They’re trying to reach out for a settlement. Let us see how it develops. Talagang galit ako as in galit (I am really angry, as in angry),” he added.

The President, known for being tough-talking, said that he would show the public how to he would slap millionaires.

Hindi ako nagyayabang. Talagang nananampal ako ng tao. Marami ditong nagpunta dito. ‘Yung gusto ng pera, pinapakain ko ng pera. ‘Yung mga undersecretary sinasampal ko, pinapaluhod ko pa (I am not boasting. I really slap people. A lot of people come here. Those who want money, I make them eat money. I slap the undersecretaries, I even make them kneel),” he said.

“I’ll give you the ultimate insult of your life. You kneel down or else I’ll throw you sa (to)… Iyan ang gusto ninyo? Eh aabot sa inyo ‘yan. ‘Yan ang sigurado. Talagang ginagawa ko ‘yan (Is that what you want? I’ll make sure this happens. That’s for sure. I really do that), I humiliate people,” Duterte added.

Manila Water, which services the eastern portion of Metro Manila, is owned by the Ayalas while Maynilad, the water concessionaire in the western part of the metropolis, is controlled by business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.

The President had threatened to sue water concessionaires and former government officials for economic plunder over a tribunal ruling that ordered the Philippines to pay the two water concessionaires for the losses they incurred after the government disapproved their petition to raise their rates.

The Ayala-owned firm, for example, took the government to court for refusing its proposed rate increases from 2013 to 2017, citing a provision in its concession deal which directs the state to “indemnify” the utility firm against any losses that could result from regulatory actions. CATHERINE S. VALENTE