ACCRA abogado defends ACCRA water deals: Duterte admi must not be ‘impulsive, tyrannical, terroristic’

A member of ACCRALaw (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices) has come out swinging against President Rodrigo Duterte for nuking a 1997 water concession agreement crafted by the same law firm.

Abogado Francis Lim warned that Duterte’s “knee-jerk revocation of the contracts” of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. “sends a very negative message that the Philippines is an unsafe investment destination.”

“The government cannot appear to be impulsive, tyrannical, or terroristic, as that would not only be deeply disturbing but would have a catastrophic effect on the country’s competitiveness to attract and retain investors,” said Lim in a column in Rappler.

“As an economy that relies heavily on foreign investments, we must tread carefully, to ensure that onerous contracts and corruption are not tolerated, but at the same time, that investors are treated fairly and with due respect,” he added.

Lim pointed out that the concession agreements signed with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System were signed by two presidents – Fidel V. Ramos for the 25-year contract signed in 1997; and the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the 15-year extension she signed just months before she stepped down in 2010. ACCRALaw’s Eusebio V. Tan was the lead adviser of the MWSS privatization.

Lim said that while it as within Duterte’s rights to revoke franchises granted to corporations.

“But it is equally true that this power must be exercised cautiously and reasonably following the rule of law, weighing its practical consequences, and must be supported by adequate justification and take into account its long term repercussions on the country. This is more so when a franchise rises to the level of a contract because the sanctity of contracts is protected no less than by the Constitution,” said Lim.

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