Labella to MCWD board: Don’t let legal battles affect management
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The legal battle between the terminated and the incumbent board of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) has come at the most crucial time for the water utility.
As the summer season approaches, the water supply is expected to drop with the summer heat treading a thin line between a sufficient supply of water and a water shortage.
Still, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Association (PAGASA) expects the prevailing La Niña to last a little longer, and with the Buhisan and Jaclupan dams at full capacity, the consumers of MCWD can still expect regular water supply.
However, Cebu City Mayor Labella is not taking risks as the supply could easily drop causing another water crisis in the city, which has started the fiasco in the board of directors back in 2019 when the mayor terminated all five directors in his capacity as the appointing authority.
This has resulted in three directors, Ralph Sevilla, Cecilia Adlawan, and Augustus Pe filing charges against Labella and the Local Water Utility Administration (LWUA), of which a Cebu City court has issued on March 16, 2021, a restraining order over Labella’s termination in 2019.
“This is my challenge to the board, to (Chairman) Joey Daluz. So he has to step up, he has to shape up especially with these issues that have transpired,” said Labella in a press conference on March 20, 2021.
The mayor has instructed the current board of directors including Daluz, Francisco Malilong Jr., Miguelito Pato, Manolette Dinsay, and Judelyn Mae Seno, to ensure that the management of the MCWD will not be affected by this legal battle.
The board of directors is only a policy-making body in the utility while the management operates more or less independently from them in terms of daily operations.
In an official statement, the management of MCWD, under its executive manager, Stephen Yee, said that despite the ongoing troubles in the board of directors, it remains to be “business as usual” for them.
“The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) assures the public that its services and operations will continue as usual, despite the court’s issuance of a TRO (temporary restraining order) relative to the case filed against the Cebu City Mayor, and the Interim Board of Directors of the MCWD,” said the management.
The mayor also wants the management to focus on daily operations to ensure the delivery of services to the public and leave the legal issues with the parties involved.
As for the filing of a motion for inhibition by the city government against the judge handling the case, Labella said it will be up to the judge if he will inhibit himself from the case.
Still, the city government has pointed out their concerns on the issuance of the TRO as they believe that there has been a pre-judgment of the cases when the TRO was released 15 months after the termination. There was no sense of urgency that is usually the reason for a TRO.
“The court has to resolve that motion first before going unto the hearing proper,” said Labella.
The TRO should last for 20 days and if no preliminary injunction can be made within the 20 days, the TRO will expire.
As of now, the three terminated directors are technically reinstated by the court, but the current board of directors refuses to step down saying they are not a party to the case.
The MCWD board members have joined the city government in filing a motion for inhibition for the judge.
In response to their refusal to step down, the camp of Sevilla, Adlawan, and Pe, said this can be considered a contempt of court. /rcg
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