Duterte orders review of all government contracts, removal of onerous deals

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DAVAO CITY (April 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, April 2, ordered the Solicitor-General, the Secretary of Justice, and all those in the legal departments of different government agencies to review all contracts entered into by the government.

In the same order, Duterte stressed that priority for review are contracts on concession agreements and foreign loans.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said Duterte is adamant in following the provisions of the Philippine Constitution.

Panelo said anything that runs counter to the highest law of the land can be rescinded and struck down by the government.

The President, according to Panelo, instructed the Solicitor General to review, evaluate, scrutinize every contract entered into by the government and/or its agencies with private entities and/or states, and to determine whether there are onerous provisions in the contract that would put Filipinos at a disadvantage or would be in violation of the Constitution.

“Even if it is executed, if it’s in violation of the Constitution, you can rescind and strike it down. We’ll ask the court to rescind it,” Panelo said.

This decision came after the President himself discovered an onerous provision contracted by the Ramos’ administration when the government entered a deal with Maynilad. 

“[I]n that contract the Republic of the Philippines was prohibited from interfering into the terms of contract,” he said. 

“And that’s why we lost in the arbitration tribunal, and I think we were made to pay 3.5 billion pesos because according to the ruling, the government intervened and by reason of intervention Maynilad suffered damages,” Panelo added. 

According to Panelo, Duterte was disappointed to know that a private company is prohibiting the government from taking actions regarding water services. “That contract was entered into by the government and drafted by lawyers of the government. There could be collusion between the lawyers of the government and the lawyers of the private company. We cannot do that. We have to prosecute them,” Panelo explained. 

Quoting Duterte, Panelo said this new promulgation is the President’s way of keeping with his mandate to serve and protect the Filipino people.

“In other words, the President is warning all and sundry that for as long as he is the President he will not allow anything that will go against the interest of the Filipino people. He will use the Constitution, all the powers given him to protect the Filipino people and to serve them faithfully,” he said. 

Duterte’s new directive to the Cabinet, said Sec. Panelo, is to review all contract regardless if it is already in place or not. 

“We’ll have to examine every provision in the contract. Anything against public policy or against the law, against the Constitution, we have to strike down… . It would be a continuing investigation of contracts,” he stressed.-ezc/ NewsLine.ph

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