By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has threatened anew to sack Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) officials if the water shortage continues during the El Niño period.

He also said he will appoint Filipino engineers working overseas to replace current MWSS officials.

“There are millions of Filipinos waiting outside…brighter than you. Kaya lang, hindi lang kilala kasi hindi mga politiko (but they’re not popular because they’re not politicians),” Mr. Duterte said at a campaign rally in Cagayan, Tuesday evening.

“I will not hesitate to replace you all.”

The president on March 20 told MWSS officials and water concessionaires to “shape up or ship out” and even threatened to terminate the concession agreements.

He further criticized the regulating body over its failure to prepare for El Niño.

“It comes with regularity…‘yang El Niño na ‘yan. Ilang tao kayo nandiyan (This El Niño comes with regularity, and how many of you are there?). And you do not prepare for it? And when it comes, walang tubig ‘yung mga tao? (The people don’t have water?)”

Mr. Duterte also repeated his warnings against the water concessionaires. “Why do you have to cause problem for the people when there are things that you can do at once… you derail everything in life,” he said.

“Kaya ako, pagka ganun, wala akong pasensya (On matters like this, I don’t have the patience). Either you can hack it or not. If you don’t, sorry.”

The President was supposed to decide on whether to fire MWSS officials on April 15, but Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said this was moved to April 22.

“April 22 na lang, magre-reflect muna siya (He’ll reflect on it first). It will give him a chance also to study everything,” Mr. Nograles said on Wednesday at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, streamed on Facebook.