Labella sacks MCWD board of directors

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella terminates the members of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District saying that the board failed to provide solutions to Cebu’s water crisis. | CDND File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — After consulting with the local water administration, Mayor Edgardo Labella made the move to terminate all members of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) citing their failure to provide solutions to address the water crisis in Cebu.

Labella issued the termination of Joel Mari Yu (chairman), Ralph Sevilla (vice chairman), Cecilia Adlawan (secretary), Procopio Fernandez (member) and Augustus Pe (member) on Tuesday, October 15.

Former mayor Tomas Osmeña appointed four of the five board of directors except for Fernandez, who was appointed in 2015 when Vice Mayor Michael Rama served as mayor.

Labella said the public has repeatedly complained about the water crisis and yet the MCWD board was not able to provide any solution to the issue.

“There are just so many complaints and there are no solutions,” said Labella.

The mayor said this pushed him to terminate the MCWD board.

In the termination letter, Labella said the consumers have become dissatisfied with the service of MCWD prompting him to take action based on the complaints.

On September 2019, Labella said he wrote a letter to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to ask for their opinion on whether or not he can dismiss the directors.

LWUA responded to Labella on October 1, 2019 and affirmed his authority to appoint and dismiss the MCWD board through a no-objection letter.

The means that as chief executive of Cebu City, Labella has the authority and the prerogative to order the dismissal of the five MCWD board members.

This exercise of power is provided in Section 3 (b) of Presidential Decree 198 or the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973 which states that the chief executive of the local government unit where 70 percent of the active water service connections come from has the authority to appoint members of the board of the local water district.

Labella told CDN Digital that he will be appointing a new set of directors as soon as possible, as the termination of the current directors is effective Tuesday, October 15.

“The public should not worry because only the board of directors were terminated. The general manager is still around to run MCWD,” said Labella.

The mayor said he is looking for board members who will provide concrete solutions to the water problem.

CDN Digital sought MCWD’s comment but their representative could not be reached as of this posting.

MCWD is a government-owned and controlled corporation that provides water supply to 193,000 consumers in Metro Cebu.

It traces its roots to 1910 when the then Cebu Municipal Council created the Osmeña Waterworks Systems (OWS). Its first major water source was the Buhisan Dam, which was officially inaugurated in 1912.

According to the MCWD website, the OWS “suffered deficits and was subsidized annually with about P1 million by the Cebu City Government.”

The passage of Presidential Decree 198 or the Local Water Utilities Act of 1973 was instrumental in the creation of MCWD as the decree promised loan, training and other assistance to autonomous water districts.

The MCWD was created after the Cebu City Government, under then mayor Eulogio Borres, approved Resolution No. 873 on May 1974.  / celr

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