PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte said that he wants to speak to the two water companies serving Metro Manila and the government lawyers who agreed to the allegedly disadvantageous concession agreements.

In a speech Monday, Mr. Duterte alleged that the agreements suggested the presence of corruption accompanying the deals clinched by Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., adding that government lawyers involved in preparing the contracts could be liable.

Hindi ito maareglo hanggat hindi ko makausap yang concessionaire. Gusto ko sa harap ng abogado ng gobyerno na…gumawa ng kontrata (It won’t be resolved until I speak with the concessionaire. I want to speak with them in front of the government lawyers who prepared the contact),” he said.

Mr. Duterte said both water concessionaires charging fees that are not reflected in the level of services delivered.

“The fact (is) that all these years we (have been) paying a fee for water treatment that never came into being… Then corporate income tax is passed on the Filipino people,” he said, noting the companies ability to pass on tax costs.

Mr. Duterte last week claimed Manila Water and Maynilad committed “economic plunder” after Manila Water made a claim for P7 billion in compensation after winning an arbitration ruling in Singapore. Mr. Duterte said the government is not obliged to pay.

The P7 billion was awarded by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore, compensating Manila Water for the government’s failure to implement rate increases covering the period June 1, 2015 to November 22, 2019.

Mr. Duterte delivered his speech made during the oath-taking of newly- appointed flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Star Rank officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP). — Gillian M. Cortez