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Lantarang conflict of interest! Mark Villar’s wife heads DOJ’s review of contracts with Maynilad, Manila Water

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The Villars are already making headway in their rumored takeover of Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., as one family member is in charge of reviewing their concession agreement with government.

Politiko found that Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar is overseeing the review of the two water concessionaire’s contract since she heads the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Legal Services and Liaison Cluster.

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

The Villars own Prime Water Infrastructure Corp., which has been taking over local water districts nationwide through joint venture agreements.

Under DOJ Department Circular 013 issued on August 1, 2019, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra specified which government offices will be under the supervision of each Undersecretary, Chief State Coounsel, Prosecutor General and Assistant Secretaries.

Placed under Villar’s supervision are the following:

– DOJ Legal Staff

– Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)

– Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC)

– Presidential Commission on Good Government

– Public Attorney’s Office

– Land Registration Authority

– DOJ Legislative Liaison Office

The DOJ, OSG and OGCC are involved in reviewing the concession agreement which the government signed with Maynilad and Manila Water in 1997.

In a speech last week, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed preference for the Villars to take control of water distribution companies in Metro Manila.

“Kaya tayo hindi yumaman eh. Hawak talaga nila. Hindi ako sabihin na masisira daw tayo. We become a pariah in the international. So what? Wala akong pakialam diyan, pariah. ‘Di sirain ko sila dito lahat,” he said during the ceremonial signing of two new laws in Malacañang December 3.

“We start from the beginning. Nandiyan naman si Villar, nandiyan naman si — – karaming mayayaman ninyo na… Go and start to develop businesses,” Duterte added.

Manila Water is owned by Ayala Corporation while Maynilad is controlled by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan.

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