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LWUA firm on intervention as MCWD water leakage increases

By: Pia Piquero - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 21,2024 - 04:31 PM

LWUA new administrator


CEBU CITY, Philippines –The battle over authority continues in the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) as the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) stands firm in its decision on the six-month intervention, despite the status quo stance.

The LWUA expressed confusion as to why the incumbent MCWD board would not honor the partial intervention, clarifying that they were not even being replaced but just temporarily suspended to make way for necessary investigations.

“It seems like they are questioning the powers of LWUA to investigate and actually put in an interim board… It seems like they want us to ask permission first before we would take regulatory action,” said LWUA administrator Jose Moises Salonga.

READ: MCWD: LWUA takeover sparks controversy, Daluz challenges authority

In a press conference on Thursday, March 21, Salonga, along with LWUA chairman Ronnie Ong, addressed the issues surrounding MCWD, disclosing that there are “complications, promises, and covenants under their empty seats” that need to be investigated.

Salonga revealed that the MCWD has breaches in their financial assistance contract with the LWUA and also has problems with their COA findings.

Non-Revenue Water

“May mga issues sa finding ng COA. Mga mga issues din sa procurement that we all need to investigate.Naguguluhan kami kasi parang ang OA naman na ayaw,” he remarked.

Salonga elaborated on their examination of various aspects such as procurements and COA findings to comprehend the situation better. Their main focus was on the escalating Non-Revenue Water (NRW) or leakage since 2019.

According to Salonga, the NRW percentage had climbed from 23 percent in 2019 to 32 percent by 2022, translating to approximately 14 million gallons of water lost daily rising to 21 million gallons wasted by Cebu.

Presently, Salonga said the reports indicated a 36 percent NRW rate with an estimated 120 million pesos annually lost by MCWD.

“As of today, we are told, 36% na daw ang NRW nila which is the leakage. Can you imagine how much [and] how many gallons are being thrown away? It’s approximately 120 million pesos annually and nawawala sa MCWD because of NRW,” he said.

READ: COA: MCWD loses P117.759 million in annual revenue due to unimproved non-revenue water rate

Moreover, he contested MCWD chairman Daluz’s statement that their intervention lacked legal basis, arguing that they could intervene even without court processes.

Salonga even questioned MCWD General Manager Edgar Donoso’s authority to declare a status quo, as he believed that such authority lay solely within the jurisdiction of the courts.

“Even I, do not own my position. So, we cannot say that ‘the employees want me to stay’. When in fact, the employees cannot compel you to stay. You are serving not your employees but the constituents. So, that’s the problem,” Salonga stressed.

In the event that the MCWD board refuses to honor the partial intervention of LWUA, Salonga stated that necessary legal actions would have to be taken.

No political motive

Salonga also explained why they sought police help, stating that they need “to protect the interim board.”

He stressed their safety as the top priority, even if it meant asking for police support. Although no one had reported harassment, Salonga acknowledged the tense atmonsther inside the premises.

He believed calling for police assistance was crucial to effectively serve and keep the interim board safe.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Ong clarified that there was no political motive behind the intervention. However, he noted that it was Daluz who seemed to be leveraging the situation for political purposes.

“Last March 16, it was used by Kilusan ng Bagong Pilipinas (KBP) itong building ginamit nila for a meeting or some kind of a political meeting. So that’s the thing that we are looking at. Bakit ginagamit ng MCWD for politics?” he said.

He accused the board of seeming to conceal something, suggesting a lack of transparency that should be addressed, particularly given their status as a government agency.

Regarding the awaited response from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), LWUA officials expressed hope for a decision that both sides could accept, regardless of whether it was favorable or not.

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