Duterte and MVP shake hands, set meeting

MANILA, Philippines – After months of railing against water concessionaire Maynilad, President Rodrigo Duterte and businessman Manny V. Pangilinan exchanged pleasantries during their first public appearance together on Thursday, March 5. 

After reading his prepared remarks on Thursday, Duterte, who was walking back to his seat, was seen shaking Pangilinan's hand. The businessman stood up to greet the President, and the two shared a quick chat during the inspection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link Circumferential Road 3.

NLEX Corporation is a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, a company led by Pangilinan. 

After the exchange on stage, presidential aide-turned-Senator Bong Go told reporters that Duterte invited Pangilinan for a meeting "soon."

Duterte's beef with the Ayala-led Manila Water and Maynilad started with the water shortage in March 2019, which prompted him to order a review of the firms' agreements with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

Maynilad also won an arbitration case worth P3.4 billion prior to the water crisis, aggravating Duterte's anger.

Due to the rants, Pangilinan earlier hinted that he may venture into businesses that are "less risky," without further elaborating. 

Pangilinan had also avoided answering questions regarding his relationship with Duterte since the attacks.

The government is currently reviewing the water contracts and will come out with new deals. – with reports from Ralf Rivas/Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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