Gov’t may still prosecute Maynilad even if it drops case: Palace

MANILA The government may still prosecute officials of water concessionaire Maynilad even after it decides to withdraw its arbitration proceedings, MalacaAang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Maynilad Chairman Manuel Pangilinan expressed openness to drop arbitration proceedings with government as long as they could come to terms on tariffs.

If a crime has been committed, then we should prosecute regardless of whether the parties involved have withdrawn. Just like when you commit a crime of theft, you return the money, but you can still be prosecuted, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo said he will leave it to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to decide whether Maynilad violated provisions of the law when entering into a contract.

Last April 2, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the Office of the Solicitor General, the Department of Justice, and all legal departments to review all contracts entered into by the government with private corporations and/or countries to determine if they contain onerous provisions.

This review stemmed from Duterte's frustration in learning that government had to pay at least PHP3.4 billion to water concessionaire Maynilad after losing an arbitration case in 2018.

The Singapore High Court upheld its arbitral award in favor of Maynilad and ordered the Philippine government to compensate the water concessionaire for revenue losses due to regulators' refusal to implement water tariff adjustments.

The Presidential Spokesperson said the President could not believe how such a contract would impose a ban on the government to take action with respect to water supply and distribution.

There could be collusion between lawyers of government and lawyers of the private company (Maynilad). We cannot do that, we have to prosecute them, Panelo said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency