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Solon seeks inquiry on LRT 1 concession

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A party-list representative has filed a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry on the alleged lopsided concession agreement between the government and the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC).

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap filed House of Representatives Resolution 647 after President Rodrigo Duterte sought a review of the state-run Light Rail Transit Authority’s existing contract with the LRMC after he learned that Fernando Zobel de Ayala and Manuel V. Pangilinan have key roles in its operations.

The LRMC is a consortium of the Ayala-led AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.

Yap noted that Ayala and Pangilinan also chair the water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad, respectively. Congress is investigating the alleged “onerous” contracts of the two water utility firms with the government.

“Provided that this agreement will cover 32 years, the gross revenue amount reported by LRMC in just four years appears to be bigger than the project concession fee, which may indicate unjust and inequitable terms that may put the financial burden of the agreement to the government,” Yap said in his resolution.

There must be a review of such existing government contracts with private firms to ensure that these are primarily advantageous to the Filipino people, Yap added.

In a speech delivered in Davao City on Friday night, Duterte vowed to go after Ayala and Pangilinan because they already have enough.

“Marami ‘yan silang pinasukan sa gobyerno pero (They have entered many deals with the government but) this one (water agreement) is really the biggest rip-off of all. And that contract was never shown to the Filipino people,” he said.

On Dec. 5, 2019, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippine government's public service contracts with private companies are subject to thorough scrutiny, following controversies hounding the supposed “onerous” deals with Manila Water and Maynilad.

Panelo said the Chief Executive has ordered the review of numerous existing government contracts with private firms to make sure that these are advantageous to the Filipino people.

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