Rama appoints new MCWD directors, Daluz says move ‘unlawful’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) now has new directors after Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama appointed three new board members.
The newly appointed directors are Aristotle Batuhan, Nelson Yuvallos, and Melquiades Feliciano. They took the oath during the press conference on Tuesday, October 31.
They will assume their roles effective immediately.
Appointment of new Board of Directors
The appointment of new MCWD board members came after the alleged graft and corruption involving the previous board members.
“The mayor [himself] will never include transactions shaded with utmost manifestation of alleged corruption or fraudulent way of handling matters,” Rama said.
Rama said that there was a “clear” recommendation from the Ombudsman, City Legal Office, and all investigating bodies to leave no room for other interpretation but “removal and termination.”
The mayor mentioned that there is a need for urgency to address the issue since it revolves around water and to him, “water is life.”
Removal of Daluz and 2 others from MCWD
It can be recalled that last June 15, Lawyer Jerone Castillo, the former city legal office chief, now acting budget and finance officer, recommended the removal of Jose Daluz III, Miguelito Pato, and Jodelyn Seno from MCWD.
This recommendation stemmed from a petition filed by the MCWD Employees Union and its Executive Board with the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas.
The petition cited concerns over MCWD’s declining income and its inability to meet the water needs of its customers.
Bulk water supply
On June 15, he pointed out that the recommendation was also supported by the Government Corporate Counsel Rogelio Quevedo, where three bulk water supply projects in Mactan, Cebu, which the MCWD board approved, allegedly constituted a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
And just recently, on Tuesday afternoon, Castillo said that the previous board members had already been removed from the office on August 17.
Castillo said that there was only an “inaction” on the part of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) that should have been acted upon because of “urgency.”
No action taken
“In fact, under the law, they should have acted within 15 days but there is no action. With this inaction, the move of the mayor is to proceed [to] effectively remove Atty. [Jose] Daluz [III], Miguelito Pato, and Jodelyn Mae Seno,” Castillo said.
Batuhan will assume the remaining term of Seno, Yuvallos will succeed Pato, and Feliciano will take over Daluz.
“We have this board act immediately for the greater good of the city, especially water is really important. We have to act now,” Castillo said.
The press conference ended at almost 2 p.m. and a few hours later, Daluz, together with Seno, called for a press conference to give their statements on their removal from the MCWD board of directors.
“Is there a communication from LWUA received by MCWD? None. Actually, I thought, we should wait for the action of LWUA because ni recognize man sila sa jurisdiction sa (they recognized the jurisdiction of) LWUA by submitting the termination to LWUA,” Daluz said.
“Niingon si mayor inaction of LWUA. I don’t know asa na na-balaora niya gikuha. Niingon siya na 15 days so siya nay mo act,” Daluz added.
(The mayor said inaction of LWUA. I don’t know where he got that law. He said that 15 days so he is the one who will act.)
The LWUA is a government-owned and controlled corporation of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (GOCC) tasked by law to promote and supervise the growth of water supply systems in cities and municipalities across the Philippines, excluding Metropolitan Manila.
According to Daluz, Rama failed to follow Section 11 of Presidential Decree (PD) 198, the law that established the water districts, as amended by PD 768, which stipulated that directors may only be removed for cause, subject to review and approval by the administration.
Daluz accused Rama of spreading falsehoods regarding the graft and corruption allegations, asserting that all the accusations were baseless.
“Si mayor [Rama] namakak ra gyud ni. He knows deep inside nga binoang ni. Dugay gud mi gauban ni mayor,” Daluz expressed.
(The mayor [Rama] he just lied. He knows deep inside that this is just nonsense. We have been together for quite with the Mayor for a while now.)
Daluz pointed out that the mayor had two primary objectives: to privatize MCWD and politics.
“These are only the two things kay wala naman ko mukuyog niya (because this time I did not support him on this),” he said.
According to Daluz, they are only the board of directors who gave additional water supply to several areas in Cebu City.
“100 millions of water nga atong nahimo, kana lang daan bakakon na kaayo si mayor. He knows that,” Daluz said.
(100 million of water that we have done, that alone shows that the mayor lied. He knows that.)
He said that the appointment was “unlawful” and the city did not adhere to the correct procedure since there was no official declaration of a vacant position.
“Since he recognized the authority of LWUA by submitting a recommendation for termination, he should have waited for the action of LWUA,” Daluz said.
“The only motive here is politics,” he added.
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