The Philippines: Duterte apologizes to Ayalas, MVP

  • Saying he had been humbled by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, President Duterte apologized to business tycoons – brothers Jaime and Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Manuel Pangilinan – for badmouthing them in public over what he called their onerous water business deals with the government.
  • The President aired his apology in a televised recorded address late on 4 May 20.
  • “The hurtful words to the Ayalas and to Pangilinan, I apologize for the hurting words. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me” Duterte said.
  • Duterte had accused Ayala-owned Manila Water and Pangilinan-led Maynilad of taking advantage of their water concession contracts to “milk” consumers of billions of pesos in water fees.
  • He had claimed that the water deals were “onerous” because they barred the government from stopping water rate hikes and allowed concessionaires to collect damages for losses that stem from regulatory actions.
  • The President had also threatened to file economic sabotage, plunder and graft charges against the owners of water firms and to send them to jail.
  • The usually fiery Duterte, however, was calm and apologetic when he was talking about big business during his public address.
  • The President started by thanking members of the private sector who helped the government provide relief to sectors affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

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