Wife of Mark Villar denies conflict of interest in water pact review

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Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar on Thursday belied allegations of conflict of interest in her office’s review of the controversial government concession agreement with water firms Maynilad and Manila Waters.

Villar, who heads the Department of Justice’s Legal Services and Liaison Cluster, made the statement in response to reports that the Villar-owned Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. is gearing to take over the two giant water concessionaires.

Emmeline is the wife of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and daughter-in-law of Senator Cynthia Villar and her husband, bilyonaryo Manny Villar.

Reports have it that the Villars are already making headway in their rumored takeover of Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

“The department conducted a disinterested review of the concession agreements and I don’t want to even dignify further by answering further accusations,” Villar told reporters at the sidelines of the 5th Manila International Dialogue on Human Trafficking held at the Manila Hotel.

While her team assisted in the review of the agreement, Villar bared that it was Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who led the review and not her.

“It was the Secretary himself who conducted the review and who issued the memo regarding that to the President,” she said.

“Prior to that review there were already several provisions that were identified as being onerous and that was reported in the broadsheets and news and that’s why the President had asked the DOJ to conduct a more thorough review which was headed by the Secretary, not me,” she explained.

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