Former Cebu governor Emilio “Lito” Osmeña has declined Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s offer for him to serve as the city’s “El Niño crisis manager.”
But drought or not next year, Cebu City and its environs are already facing a severe water supply and distribution problem, said Osmeña.
The 77-year-old real estate developer said the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) can’t be totally relied upon because it lacks “cooperation from the Dept. of Public Works and Highways.”
So for a severe drought, “desalination which is capital intensive would be the only remedy.” he said.
And the only water source in the mountain barangays “would be the last flowing river in Cebu City — Lusaran.”
Osmeña’s report of the “brief inquiry” he made on Cebu City’s water situation was attached to his Oct. 20 letter declining Rama’s offer.
The memo was sent to Mayor Rama and Cebu City Representatives Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa and Raul del Mar.
Osmeña in an Oct. 2 letter initially said he “cannot possibly refuse” the mayor’s request to help Cebu city but set conditions for his role as “crisis manager” to be effective.
He said his appointment must be pro bono (without pay), non-partisan and have the consent of the City Council, and both city congressmen.
He said the mayor also has to instruct MCWD to give its full cooperation and assistance. Then he got a reply from Congressman Abellanosa, whose text message he attached.
“I really admire your everlasting concern for Cebu. For sure you are the best person to help address Cebu’s water crisis. You have done much for Cebu and our country. It will be unbearable for any Cebuano to see your name used and exploited by politician’s selfish end,” said Abellanosa.
“Perhaps after the 2016 elections, you can come in and help in a non-partisan framework,”
With that, Osmeña said he had to decline the mayor’s offer given the “self-explanatory” feedback.
In citing MCWD’s limitations, Osmena pointed to “lack of cooperation from the DPWH”, serious demoralization of personel and lack of capital.
“To cite an example: allegedly there is substantial water supply coming in from the north which cannot be distributed to the south without DPWH cooperation,” he wrote.
Mayor Rama, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, was not immediately available for comment.