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Duterte Apologizes to Ayala, Pangilinan; Open to Settlement with Water Utility Firms

Change of heart for President after apology to tycoons
by The reportr team
May 5, 2020
Photo/s: Presidential Communications Operations Office

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has softened his stance against two top water distribution companies in the Philippines after making an apology to their tycoon owners.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said the tough-talking Filipino leader is now open to an out-of-court settlement with Manila Water and Maynilad owners Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Manny V. Pangilinan, instead of suing them over water supply deals.

"Sabi naman po niya (Duterte), pwedeng mag-usap sa mga issues between these companies and the government. I think that's an indication na kung pwedeng out-of-court settlement, he would explore out-of-court settlement. Pero 'yung mga issues na nilabas ng Presidente, lalung-lalo na sa water concessions, remain," Roque said in his press briefing.

"Siguro 'yung pag-uusap ay doon sa paano babaguhin 'yung concession agreements ng dalawang kumpanya," he added.

Duterte, for months, had been criticizing these firms for their alleged unfair concession agreements to supply water to Metro Manila, threatening to sue them for economic sabotage, plunder, or “estafa on a large scale,” even saying the government could take over water concessions.

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But the outspoken Davaoeño made a U-turn on Monday, thanking the Ayala and MVP groups for helping in the fight against COVID-19.

"I apologize for the hurting words. If you can find in your heart to forgive me, because if you do not then if you do not want to forgive me I will undercut you I will go direct to God," the President said in a briefing on the government's COVID-19 response.