Incumbent MCWD Board refuses to step down despite TRO
CEBU CITY, Philippines — History seems to repeat itself as the board of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) refuses to step down amid an order from the court.
The appointed board of directors of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, including their chairperson, Lawyer Jose Daluz, III, and members, Francisco Malilong Jr., Miguelito Pato, Lawyer Manolette Dinsay, and Judelyn Mae Seno, said they would not step down even with the temporary restraining order (TRO) released against the termination of their predecessors.
Daluz told reporters in a phone conference that they were strangers to the case since they were not defendants to the charges filed by previous directors, Ralph Sevilla, Cecilia Adlawan, and Augustus Pe, which were adressed to Labella and to the LWUA.
Yet in the TRO released by the Regional Trial Court Branch 7, the court has ordered that “the present Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) shall be restrained and shall cease and desist in the exercise of their functions, duties, and responsibilities within the 20-day period duration.”
“We cannot be ordered by the court when we are not party to the case. This reduces our constitutional right to be heard. As of now, we are strangers to the case. We will not yield,” said Daluz.
Daluz further said they had never been summoned by the court, which meant that they never had their day in court.
This was also the advice of the MCWD lawyers and Daluz said he agreed with this because he was also hesitant to abandon his duties to the water utility amid this issue.
The board would discuss its next move, but Daluz said they had ordered the management not to recognize the reinstated members, considering that they were still functioning.
Initially, the current board wanted to follow the TRO, but upon the advice of lawyers, they are now leaning into supporting the Cebu City government’s move for a motion for inhibition.
The city government already filed the motion for inhibition arguing that the judge had wrongly issued a TRO when there was no sense of urgency over the termination done on 15 months ago.
“I think the judge needs to inhibit because the right thing to do is to acquire jurisdiction over the persons so that they can be affected on whatever decision or order the court will render. In this case, we are not a party to (the) case so he cannot order us to vacate,” said Daluz.
The camp of the court-reinstated directors argued that the current board could not be strangers to the case.
“It’s like this — the issue whether the TRO covers the present board has been discussed during the hearing. They are covered by the TRO. They might want to read the Order again. I suggest that they attend the hearings so they will know what’s really happening with the case,” said Lawyer Amando Ligutan, legal counsel of the court-reinstated directors.
“They might have forgotten Rule 3, Section 19 of the Rules of Court. Time for them to read it again,” said Ligutan.
As for the motion of reconsideration the city government has filed against the TRO, Ligutan said this could not be done.
“The City Legal Office is resorting to a non-existent remedy, a motion for reconsideration to a Temporary Restraining Order. That does not exist. It’s up to them to check their law books again. Time for them to study again,” he said.
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