MCWD chair speaks out: We are not at fault for water crisis
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Chairman of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), Joel Marie Yu, broke his silence on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, a day after Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella terminated the water utility’s Board of Directors.
Yu said in a statement sent to media that a water crisis indeed exists in Cebu, but he denied that this was the Board’s fault.
“This crisis has been brewing for the past 30 years, but weak government and politics did nothing to solve it,” said Yu.
He said the crisis is caused primarily because of the growing gap between demand and supply brought by increased in-migration, booming tourism, and expanding industries.
Yu also attributed the crisis to the past administrations that have failed to address the concerns of a limited groundwater source.
“On the supply side, as early as the mid 70s, experts from the World Bank, JICA, USAID advised Cebu to tap surface water sources, thru Dams, as a necessary alternative to the extraction of water from Cebu’s acquifer (which, up to today is Cebu’s main source of water.) Nobody did anything, and people continued extracting water, thru deep wells,” he said.
The chairman, who received his immediate termination on Tuesday, said that the cause of lack of water supply in dry months is due to the development of natural acquifers in Cebu’s topography.
These acquifers used to hold water, but since buildings have been constructed in these areas, the water flows to the streets, causing flooding in the rainy season.
“Our Board, barely 2 (two) years in office, is the cause of the water crisis?…. as an aside, the first thing I did when I assumed the Chairmanship was to put the Mananga Dam and a 100 million liter/day desal plant into motion. These projects are now ready to bid… and we get fired instead??” said Yu.
Yu also said he believes that the termination was caused by opponents of former Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who appointed most of the board into office.
“The move against us is the concerted effort of all of Tommy Osmena’s enemies. We are collateral damage, and even if protected by legal tenure, the culture of impunity prevailing today gives truth to the saying that in the Philippines, the law is only a suggestion, and the Constitution… just a piece of paper, ” he added.
Osmeña, in a text message to CDN Digital, said the termination was not politically motivated but was a move by Office of the Presidential Assistany to the Visayas, Secretary Michael Dino, to control the water utility.
“It’s not political I believe . It’s Dino who wants to make MCWD a part of personal agenda like BRT (Bus Rapid Transit),” said Osmeña.
CDN Digital has tried to reach Dino as of this posting, but the secretary has yet to issue a statement.
Meanwhile, MCWD has assured the public that services will go on despite the termination of the Board of Directors.
“The operations of MCWD are going as usual today amid the serving of the orders of termination of services against its Board of Directors (BOD) yesterday, Oct. 15, 2019,” said MCWD in a statement.
MCWD said the Board is only the policy making body of the utility, but does not have executive functions.
“MCWD assures the public that it continues to do its best to serve the needs of its consumers especially those affected by the water supply shortage,” they said. /bmjo
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