President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the 44th Cabinet Meeting at Malacañan Palace on December 2, 2019. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday relaunched his attacks on some of the country’s biggest conglomerates, threatening to sue water utilities under the Ayala and Pangilinan groups and the non-renewal of the broadcast franchise of the Lopez-led ABS-CBN network.

Duterte accused Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. of economic sabotage, claiming the two concessionaires supplying water to Metro Manila were raking in huge profits through lopsided contracts obtained when water supply was privatized in 1997.

“We had a Cabinet meeting until four o’clock this morning. Ito lang ang pag-usapan natin (We only talked about this) because I’m really adamant about the Filipino being screwed. Kawawa mga tao (Pity the people),” Duterte said in Malacañan Palace after signing bills postponing next year’s village and youth council polls.

Duterte’s remarks came after Manila Water, a unit of the Ayala conglomerate, won a P7.4-billion international arbitration case in which it sought compensation from the Philippine government for not hiking water rates since 2015.

He said water supply was “in the hands of oligarchs” and was treated as a commodity rather than a natural resource owned by Filipinos.

“Ang kontrata napaka-tagilid na tagilid (The contract is very lopsided) because if they fail to realize the profit enduring the lifetime of the contract or at any period, babayad tayo sa nalugi nila (we will compensate them for their losses),” the president said.

Manila Water reported P6.5 billion in profits in 2018. Maynilad, a joint venture between Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI of the construction-based Consunji family, earned P7.7 billion in core net income.

Duterte also lashed out at ABS-CBN, and brought up anew a dispute over 2016 election advertising. He claims his election ad responding to an attack ad by then senator Antonio Trillanes IV was not aired even if the network accepted P2 million in payment. Former senator Chiz Escudero had a similar experience, he said.

“Ang inyong franchise, mag-end next year. If you are expecting ma-renew yan, I’m sorry. you’re out. I will see to it that you’re out,” he said in remarks before newly appointed government officials.

(Your franchise will end next year. If you are expecting it to be renewed, I’m sorry, you’re out. I will see to it that you’re out.) (