Lagman: Duterte’s threats to Maynilad, Manila Water deals unconstitutional

File photo from Abante

For Bicol Representative Edcel Lagman, President Rodrigo Duterte’s move on Maynilad and Manila Water to accept government’s unilateral revision of their existing water concessions violates the constitutional guarantee on the freedom to contract.

“The Constitution protects contracts from impairment by the State,” says the opposition lawmaker on Monday.

“The mere say-so of the Duterte administration that the water concessions contain onerous provisions must pass judicial scrutiny, and any one-sided investigation by the administration will never suffice,” said Lagman

The lawmaker from Bicol pointed out that potential investors always consider the “predictability of the enforcement of government policies” as one of the major factors, however, “any constitutional violation of the freedom to contract derogates that certainty,” Lagman warned.

“The President’s threats that if the water concessionaires will not accept his imposition, the government will take over the water utilities will further drive away investors following the report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that foreign direct investments plunged 32.8 percent from January to October in 2019,” Lagman added

Earlier, President Duterte expressed willingness to make amends with water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad if they accept the "corrected" contracts.

"I suppose that up to now, they must already have the copies of the proposed contract, as corrected," Duterte said in an exclusive interview with ABS CBN on Friday night

"And I suppose if they are willing to accept the conditions that are being laid down there in the proposal, I think we can negotiate again." He added

On Tuesday, the President also announced that the water concessionaires can only either accept the new water contracts or face cancellation of their present deals.

Duterte said he will not hesitate to cancel the current water deals if Maynilad and Manila Water decline his new proposal.

"But if you do not sign the contract, there is no contract because we have terminated it for all intents and purposes," the President said.

"It is my stand that the contract was null and void from the very beginning because the provisions, the anti-graft law, and constitutional requirements, have been transgressed." He added

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