PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte directed Cabinet members to review all government contracts including the China loans, and remove all onerous provisions, his spokesperson said yesterday.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that during the Cabinet meeting on Monday, Duterte said government contracts can be canceled and certain provisions in the deals can also be removed if they can be proven to be burdensome to the country.
“The Chief Executive instructed all agencies to check and review all contracts entered into and remove onerous provisions that might be detrimental to the lives of the Filipinos,” he said in a statement.
Panelo said Duterte specifically directed Solicitor General Jose Calida and the Department of Justice to conduct the reviews. The legal units of all government agencies were also given the same instruction.
“The most important thing that was discussed last night, the President issued a directive that henceforth, he directed SolGen and Department of Justice to study all contracts entered into by the government to find out whether there are provisions that are onerous and against the interest of the Filipino people. And to do something about it, either to rescind or to cancel those contracts or to sue people who are behind those contracts which are unconstitutional,” Panelo told CNN Philippines.
When asked if this includes the loan agreements the Philippines has entered into with China, Panelo replied, “Certainly.”
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has issued warnings against the controversial loan deals with China. He said the Philippines’ patriomonial assets are being used as collateral in the China-funded Kaliwa Dam Project and the Chico River Irrigation Pump Project. He said these deals are just “the beginning” of possibly more onerous agreements with China.
“The first two loans — Chico and Kaliwa are just the beginning because this is a total of 12 to 24 billion dollars with several projects. So we have to be careful. We must remove these provisions that are disadvantageous to us,” he said on March 28.
He said that in case of default by the Philippines in repayment of the loan, China can seize, to satisfy any arbitral award in favor of China, patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use.
Panelo also said the President has ordered a review of the concessionaire agreement with water providers Maynilad and Manila Water following the water crisis in March.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will focus on the “concession agreements and loan contracts with reportedly disadvantageous provisions.”