PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday vowed to prosecute officials responsible for onerous provisions in the government’s contracts with water utilities.

In a speech, Mr. Duterte said he had given Manila Water Co., Inc. and Maynilad Water Services “the choice, not an ultimatum” to accept new contracts without the clauses that allegedly disadvantage the government.

Officials of both water providers face criminal liability if they refuse, Mr. Duterte said, adding that the state could take over their facilities.

“Sign the new contract because if you don’t I will nationalize and take over the operations and I’ll send you to jail,” Mr. Duterte said. “I have two years to do that and I can do it,.”

Mr. Duterte’s six-year term ends in 2022.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Gueverra on Tuesday said they were still finalizing draft contracts that are “fair and equitable.”

Mr. Duterte cited a “conspiracy theory” that there was a scheme to defraud the government, noting that copies of the water contracts had been kept from the public.

He accused Maynilad and Manila Water of committing “economic plunder” by imposing fees even if they had failed to deliver their promised water treatment services.

“I will see to it that a billionaire goes to prison,” Mr. Duterte said. — Gillian M. Cortez