Duterte’s Team Widens Scrutiny of ‘Onerous’ Philippine Deals

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines government said it’s reviewing all deals signed with the private sector that may have put taxpayers at a disadvantage, a sign that President Rodrigo Duterte is taking the scrutiny of contracts beyond regulated utilities.

“I endorsed to the president a review of all contracts that may have onerous provisions,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez told reporters in Manila on Monday. His department discovered a 40-year-old property deal outside Manila that needs to be looked at closely, Dominguez said.

Even Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, plans to do some probing. In an interview with DZIQ radio on Sunday, Panelo said he would look into Ayala Land Inc.’s contract with the state-run University of the Philippines after reading an Internet story that the developer is paying a cheap lease.

Ayala Land tumbled 7%, its biggest drop in more than four years, while its parent Ayala Corp., whose water venture is under review following an earlier verbal tirade by Duterte, lost 6.6%. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 2.2% at the close in Manila, to its lowest in more than three months.

The president said Friday evening that he would review next a Manila rail transit contract awarded to Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., another shareholder of the Philippine capital’s water concessionaires. Metro Pacific closed 5.4% lower on Monday, falling for a fourth day.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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