Only Cebu City mayor can appoint MCWD directors
THE Supreme Court has finally put to rest the issue of who has the authority to appoint members of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) as it ruled that only the mayor of the city of Cebu has this authority.
The ruling comes eight years after then Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia questioned the appointment of Joel Mari Yu on Feb. 22, 2008 by also then Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
MCWD was created in 1974 through Presidential Decree 198 or the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973.
In July 2002, then Cebu governor Pablo Garcia asserted his authority to appoint members of the MCWD BOD, saying that he has the appointing authority since the active water service connections in Cebu City had been below 75% of the total active water service connection of the MCWD.
Garcia based his argument on a Section 3(b) of PD 198, to which the MCWD itself filed a case for declaratory relief before the Regional Trial Court, seeking to declare the Cebu City mayor as the sole appointing authority of its BOD. But the court dismissed the petition for declaratory relief filed by MCWD.
Eventually, two vacancies in the MCWD BOD occurred. Garcia and Osmeña, who were the governor and mayor at that time, jointly appointed Adelino Sitoy and Adelino Pacana to fill the vacancies.
However, the position of Sitoy in the board was deemed vacated upon his election as mayor of Cordova during the 2007 elections. Osmena, on February 22, 2008, appointed Joel Mari Yu to fill the vacated slot.
On June 13 of the same year, Gwendolyn filed a complaint seeking to annul the appointment of Yu.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, the SC noted that despite the expiration of Yu’s term last 2012, the complaint should be still decided “despite the intervening developments that could have rendered the case moot and academic” because of the public interest involved.
It ruled that Section 3(b) of PD 198, to which the older Garcia had anchored his argument, should be partially struck down as it contradicted the local autonomy granted by the 1987 Constitution to local government units. It was also inconsistent with the Local Government Code, the SC decision read.
“Clearly, the assailed provision no longer provided for substantial distinction because, firstly, it ignored that the MCWD was built without the participation of the provincial government. Secondly, it failed to consider that the MCWD existed to serve the community that represents the needs of the majority of the active water service connections; and thirdly, the main objective of the decree was to improve the water service while keeping up with the needs of the growing population,” the decision stated.
The Supreme Court deemed it inconsistent to the objectives of PD 198 to still leave the appointing authority to the provincial governor because the provincial governor had administrative supervision only over municipalities and component cities accounting for 16.92% of the active water service connection in the MCWD as opposed to Cebu City’s 61.28%.
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