Employees Union asks Daluz to step down as MCWD chair

By: Wenilyn B. Sabalo - CDN Digital Multimedia Reporter | August 18,2022 - 05:49 PM

MEU President Abigail Almeria (rightmost) along with MEU officials and members of other supporting organizations call on MCWD Chairman Lawyer Joey Daluz to step down.  | Wenilyn B. Sabalo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The MCWD Employees Union (MEU) is asking MCWD chairman Atty. Jose Daluz III to resign as head of the water district.

MEU, the union of about 510 permanent Metropolitan Cebu Water District employees, in their position paper, laid various grounds as to why Daluz should resign from his post.

These include the poor operational performance of the agency over the past few years, alleged questionable procurements and contracts, intervention and giving of unwarranted benefits in the hiring process.

Sought for comment, Daluz said that it would be up to the body that appointed him to decide whether he should stay or go.

Other union groups, including the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (AGWWAS), also expressed support to the MEU through a statement.

Poor operational performance

MEU President Abigail Almeria, in a press conference on Thursday, August 18, 2022, said that in less than three years since the take over of the current MCWD Board of Directors (BOD), the income of the MCWD plunged by 62 percent, while the non-revenue water (NRW) rose to 30 percent.

Almeria, quoting data the union secured from reports of the Commission on Audit and MCWD annual reports, told reporters that MCWD’s corporate health is in critical condition.

She said that before the new set of MCWD BOD took over in October 2019, the income of MCWD was around P313.48 million for 2018 and P211.35 million for 2019. But it significantly went down to P76.89 million in 2020 and  P34.27 million in 2021.

“Kami nga nagtan-aw, naguol na g’yod mi ani. Kay kanang P34.27 million kuwang ra na para sa usa ka buwan nga pag-operate sa water district,” she said.

The union also expressed concern about the high NRW the MCWD logged for 2021.

NRW is water that had been produced and is “lost” before reaching the consumer. Losses can be caused by physical factors such as leaks or apparent losses through water theft or metering inaccuracies.

Almeria said that based on their records, from 25.23 percent NRW in 2018 and 23.66 percent NRW in 2019, the NRW went to as high as 30.05 percent in 2021–which the union claimed as “a level higher” than the industry standard of 20 percent.

Daluz’s side

Daluz did not question the accuracy of the data presented by the MEU during the press conference. He, however, claimed that various situations and reasons caused it, such as the effects of Typhoon Odette in December 2021, where the water district offered free water, among other interventions.

“Niubos g’yod ang net profit sa MCWD due to pandemic nya sa Odette. Nitaas sad ang atong NRW because daghan man gud kaayong libreng tubig panahon sa pandemic nga atong gihatag. Unya, katong pag Odette nga nisaka pag-ayo, daghan kaayong kawat sa tubig no, inabrihay sa hydro,” he told reporters.

“Importante diha that we still have a little bit of profit. Non-profit man ni ang atong MCWD. In fact, daghan sad kaayo tang gihimong intervention katong nag rent ta og mga trucks para sa mga low pressure nga areas,” he added.

Read: MCWD notes increase in water meter thefts this year

In an official statement, the MCWD said that it had to rent water delivery trucks in order to serve the consumers that did not have water due to the massive brownout caused by Typhoon Odette. The consumers were not charged for the water delivered to them thus increasing the NRW. Several lines were also damaged causing leaks and water wastage, the MCWD said.

Although the MCWD’s income has decreased over the previous few years, Daluz maintained that the current BOD was still able to improve the water district’s service, highlighting the operation of the Lusaran Bulk Water Project.

Read: Lusaran water project on track to operate by Sept. – MCWD

Daluz as well refuted claims of favoritism in the employment procedure at MCWD.

“When it comes to higher positions (assistant general manager and division managers), it needs concurrence with the Board. Requirement man sad gud sa civil service nga we have to fill up the regular positions that’s why nga daghan kayng atong hiring ron sa regular position. Kay di man mi makuanan og casual og di ma hire una ang regular position,” he said.

Daluz also maintained that the MCWD will not be privatized amidst fears of some employees that if the poor performance of the MCWD continues, the water district will opt for privatization.

“This is the leverage of MCWD, makapalit sila (private entities), naay mabaligya, but they distribute the water. Of course, kaning mga private sector, amo g’yod butangan sa kontrata nga dili g’yod sila mo-compete sa MCWD. They will not put pipes. MCWD will just be here as a government owned and controlled corporation,” he added.

Procurement, contracts, hiring process intervention, unwarranted benefits

The MEU called out Daluz for alleged questionable contracts in MCWD’s procurement and purchase of vehicles, fuel expenses, and hydrants, among others. The union also brought up potential inconsistencies in employee hiring for senior-level and even rank and file positions.

Almeria claimed that in January 2022, the MCWD has already reviewed the applications for assistant general manager position, and is prepared for selection. Most were internal applicants, while one came from Cebu City Hall, but none of them were chosen because of a lack of supporting documentation.

According to her, the vacancy was republished in a number of publications in July 2022.

This yielded internal candidates again, as well as applicants from Cebu City Hall, including an application from a former City Hall official (CDN Digital opted to withhold the name of the official pending his side on the matter).

“Duna sila’y gusto siguro nga makaapil, so gibalik nila og post…Karon, ang nangapply sa second posting, mao g’yuy giappoint,” she narrated.

She also alleged that unwarranted benefits were also given even in the hiring of contractual employees who allegedly failed thrice in the MCWD exam.

The union also criticized the alleged “overstaffed general manager’s (GM) office and board of directors office of the MCWD.

She claimed that before the current BOD came, there were only five personnel under the GM’s office composed of the GM, the technical assistant, a private secretary, one driver, and one utility, but now, it has 12 composed of the GM, permanent and contractual technical assistants, a clerk, safety officer, one utility staff, two “perfect clean”, and four drivers. /rcg

Related stories:

Two ‘water meter thieves’ nabbed in Cebu City

Rama asks MCWD to reconsider water rate hike

MCWD wants out of legal battle over terminated board members

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