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Former PRO7 director seeks to nullify Sogod water code

By: Futch Anthony Inso - CDN Digital Correspondent | June 12,2024 - 07:57 PM


LAPU-LAPU CTY, Cebu — A retired police officer sought the court’s assistance to declare the Municipality of Sogod’s Municipal Water Code null and void.

Jose Marie Espino and his wife, Rose Espino, both residents of Sogod town, filed a petition for a writ of preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court in Danao City.

Espino was a former regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-7.

Among the respondents of the petition were Sogod Mayor Lissa Marie Streegan and the members of the municipal council.

The couple alleged that the water rates in the town have increased by 150 percent since Municipal Ordinance No. 15-2003, or the Municipal Water Code, was passed and approved by the mayor on November 14, 2023.

According to the petitioners, no public hearing was held before the ordinance was passed.

“Last year, it was already reported that there would be an increase in the water rate. They kept it under wraps. The municipal and barangay officials were the only ones who conducted public hearings. There were just about 50 of them,” Espino said.

He stated that as a resident and businessman, he was among those affected by the sudden increase in water rates.

“I started the cause against the water rate increase in Sogod. I was very vocal. I took up the cudgels for the people of Sogod because why would they increase the water rate when there was no public hearing?” he added.

He also described the passage of the Municipal Water Code as irregular.

“The administrators said we could not do anything anymore because the ordinance has been passed. But they can’t implement it now that I filed for a temporary restraining order,” he said.

Espino added that the timing of the increase was particularly bad, especially since their water supply was not stable due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon. Additionally, when it rains heavily, the water from their faucets turns brown.

Before the ordinance was passed, the minimum residential water rate was only P100 per 10 cubic meters. However, it increased to P250 per 10 cubic meters after the ordinance took effect.

In the petition, Espino described the ordinance as unconstitutional and invalid “on the ground that it directly contravenes the 1987 Philippine Constitution and other laws.”

“The enactment of such an unconstitutional ordinance constitutes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Legislative and Executive branches of the Local Government Unit of the Municipality of Sogod,” part of the petition reads.

He said the 150 percent increase was “unjust, excessive, oppressive, and confiscatory.”

Espino also denied the allegation that he was interested in entering politics in the town.

“I have no plans of joining politics. I have just taken up the cudgels for the people of Sogod. They are against the water increase but are not voicing their concerns,” he clarified.


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TAGS: potable water, Sogod town

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