Water exec Almendras apologizes; Palace to study ‘legal consequences’ of settlement offered

HO CHI MINH CITY/VIETNAM, 7JUN10 - Jose Rene D. Almendras, President, Manila Water Company, Philippines captured during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Ho Chi Minch City, Vietnam, June 7, 2010. Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Ms. Sikarin Thanachaiary

Manila, Philippines – A high-ranking water concessionaire has on Wednesday (11 December 2019) apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte over the controversy involving billions of pesos of alleged collectibles by water firms with the government.

Manila Water president and chief executive officer Jose Rene Almendras, a former cabinet secretary of the President Noynoy Aquino, accordingly apologized to President Duterte for allegedly “angering him” over a decision of an international court in Singapore ordering the Philippine government to pay Manila Water and Maynilad around P11B in arrears.

Recently, Manila Water and Maynilad released a statement saying the two water firms will not press the Duterte administration anymore to pay the said amount.

Meanwhile, the Palace said Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide whether to accept the proposed settlement offered by Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. as he wanted to study first “the practical and legal consequences of the situation.”

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed that Duterte received the letters dated Dec. 10, 2019 of Maynilad and of Manila Water, signed by Manuel V. Pangilinan and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, respectively.

“The President will evaluate this development, as well as study the practical and legal consequences of the situation, before making any decision on what measure to undertake next,” Panelo said in a statement.

During the Senate hearing, upon the questioning by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on the water issue, Almendras said that Duterte’s “anger” is the reason the company will no longer ask the government to pay the amount.

“Humihingi po kami ng paumanhin kung nagalit siya (Duterte) dahil sa arbitral ruling. Kaya ho namin inatras ang arbitral ruling dahil nagsalita na po ang Pangulo na hindi niya gusto ito. Kami naman po nakakaintindi, marunong naman po kaming makaintindi, kaya kami nagpasya na hindi na lang po namin itutuloy,” he said.

Senator Go asked why they waived the implementation of the arbitral ruling, Almendras said that they don’t want to cause further annoyance with President Duterte who threatened the water firms of widespread economic sabotage and economic plunder.

“It is unfortunate na nagalit ang Pangulo. Hindi po namin pagnanasa na magbigay ng problema sa Pangulo. Lahat po ng pagkakataon na ibinigay sa amin, kung saan po kami pwedeng tumulong, tumutulong kami,” he said.

“Dahil nag-react na ang Pangulo, ayaw naming galitin ang Pangulo. Susunod po kami sa Pangulo. Siya po ang leader ng ating bansa,” he added.

Almendras said they have no control over the issuance of the decision by an arbitration court in Singapore for a case they filed in 2015.

“The arbitral ruling was really to clarify the procedure po on how do we compute. Ganun naman po ‘yun pag merong kontrata tapos hindi tayo nagkasundo sa interpretasyon,” he said.

“Ang nangyari po hindi namin mapigilan na paglabas ng desisyon dahil na-file na po ‘yun nung 2015. So nung lumabas ang desisyon hindi namin kontrolado kung kailan lalabas, kailan sasabihin. Ayaw po naming kalabanin ang Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte. Mabuti po ang ginagawa niya para sa taumbayan, sumusuporta po kami,” Almendras added.

Go then asked for it to be put on record that the main reason why the water concessionaires decided to drop the arbitral ruling is the fact that it angered President Duterte. (Marian Sinamban/IAMIGO/CNS)

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