Chief Presidential Legal Counsel & Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte earlier expressed his outrage over the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore, directing the Government of the Philippines to pay Manila Water billions of pesos for the non-implementation of water rate increases that occurred prior to his assumption to the presidency.

Under the Constitution, all natural resources of the Philippines, including water, belong to – and are owned by – the State. It is indisputable that water is intended for the use, enjoyment, and welfare of the citizens.

The use and delivery of water is impressed with public interest hence it is but a privilege and therefore must not be abused. Our water concessionaires in Metro Manila, Rizal and Cavite, however, have not only abused the arrangement of delivering and distributing the State-owned water to the citizens but have treated the same as a commodity and a money making venture, instead of considering it as a public service.

A review of the agreements with the Manila Water and Maynilad reveals that they are contrary to public policy and public interest, the same being onerous and disadvantageous to the people, relative the terms or periods, government non-interference, as well as concessionaire indemnification for losses.

The Chief Executive has directed the Department of Justice, together with the Office of the Solicitor General, to draft and prepare new covenants that are favorable to the State and the Filipino people.

The President has also directed the filing of the appropriate criminal, civil and administrative charges against all those involved in the said agreements including the latter’s owners and legal counsels, as well as agents and lawyers of the government for economic sabotage.

It is apparent that some members of the government have not only looked the other way, but have in fact purposely guided the hands of those who have raped our economy for their own personal aggrandisement . Worse, they are hell-bent on bleeding our country dry. The proper delivery of basic services has not been fostered but thwarted to the outrageous detriment of the Filipinos.

We put everyone on notice that the constitutional command to the President to serve and protect the Filipino people shall be complied with passion and dedication, regardless of whatever power or influential groups are run over.

Those who impede or derail the constitutional directive to the President to serve and protect the people shall find themselves behind bars with free food and lodging.

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