By Genalyn Kabiling
President Rodrigo Duterte has blasted two water tycoons for allegedly being “show-offs” with their supposedly dubious charitable foundations.
The President launched into a tirade against Manila Water Company, Inc. Chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. Chairman Manuel Pangilinan at a public engagement in Davao City Friday.
In his remarks, Duterte argued that these rich businessmen tried to show their “corporate conscience” through their foundations but were actually engaged in the “greatest rip-off of the country” over the alleged onerous water deals.
“Kaya sabi niyo (You asked) ‘Where is the big fish?’ I’m giving you now the biggest fish of them all. Ang pinakamayaman pa, may mga foundation for the poor, kung ano-ano. Eh ilan lang mang estudyante binibigyan nila (The richest people have foundations for the poor but actually offer assistance only to a few students),” Duterte said at a thanksgiving event for the Fraternal Oder of Eagles in Davao City Friday night.
“Just a show-off. Just to maybe convey to the Filipino nation na, ‘No, we are rich but we have a corporate conscience.'”
Duterte particularly cast doubt on the Ayala Foundation that supposedly sponsors the schooling of rich children abroad. “This Ayala Foundation sending scholars. Ang scholars naman nila, eh anak ng mga mayaman. Libre doon sa America ang pag-aral. Sus (Their scholars are children from rich families. They study in America for free).”
The President made this statement after denouncing anew the two Metro Manila water concessionaires over the allegedly irregular water deals. Duterte said the existing water deals have violated the country’s laws, particularly the anti-graft practices law.
“We surrendered sovereignty. We allowed our natural and valuable natural resource such as water, ginawa nilang (they made into a) common commodity. That is a violation of the Constitution,” he said.
The President earlier threatened to sue and jail the water officials and other persons involved in the crafting of the contracts for alleged plunder and large-scale estafa. Authorities have started to draft new water contracts without the controversial provisions opposed by the President.
With the crafting of the new deals, Duterte called on the water firms anew to accept the proposal or else face a possible government takeover.
“Pag-aralan daw nila (They will study it) but I tell you, you better sign the contract — this is good for the Filipino people. You do not sign it, I take over your operations sa water distribution. I will nationalize the water in my country,” he said.
Duterte also said he was confident of securing a legal victory if he files cases against the water officials. He said he wanted to see “billionaires” inside a jail.
“I will take over. I will expropriate then I will charge you in court. I am very sure that in the hands of a competent prosecutor I could get a conviction of plunder,” he said. “Once that case is filed for estafa on a large scale, there is no bail allowed.”