THE chairman of First Community Cooperative (FICCO) Foundation on Thursday, November 9, said City Mayor Oscar Moreno and the City Council could disband and replace the management of the water district if they wanted to.
Dr. Anselmo Mercado, FICCO chairman and one of the personalities who led calls to convert the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) into a cooperative in 2009, said there is no need to bring the matter to Congress as the matter regarding the management of the COWD is a ‘local issue.’
"If they really want to resolve it, all we have to do is, the mayor would order the city council to say, disband the COWD board, and replace it with some other management group, maybe a cooperative, maybe corporation, this can be done locally," Mercado said, who is also a member of the Cagayan de Oro Advisory Cooperative.
Mercado said the cooperative groups in the city are "ready to discuss the possibilities," saying cooperatives have the funds to achieve the conversion.
"We have been telling the previous local executives from (Vicente) Emano, (Constantino) Jaraula, wala man gihapon. Now we think Mayor Moreno is opening his mind about cooperatives, but so far it's not yet being realized. We are just waiting," he said.
On the other hand, if the local government insists on having a say in the local water district which is also government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), Mercado said the City Hall should help keep it afloat.
Mercado said the management of the water district shouldn’t be blamed for COWD’s poor services as they depend on the availability of funds.
"We can't blame them though because they don't have funds, they are trying their best to improve their facilities, but they don't have money, so that's why some other group who has money and knowledge on management should takeover," he said.
"If the government really wants to govern it themselves, they have to fund it, there's no other way to save it, but City Hall would have to fund it," he said.
Mercado said another option is to allow the COWD to be run by either a corporation or a cooperative "like a partnership."
"This way, it may be a corporation, but the voice of the people isn't lost," he said.
Mercado said the water district’s problems shouldn’t be only between COWD and its bulk water supplier, Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. (RVWCI) as the delivery of clean water is a basic service that should be given to the people.
City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., however, contradicted Mercado saying the City Council has no power to disband an independent government entity.
"We don't have authority. Independent ang affairs sa COWD, they make their own decisions, and they have their own charter. Even the mayor has no power over it," he said.
Lao said the only way to help solve the problem is to petition the court to allow representatives of the people to participate in the lawsuit between the water district and its bulk water supplier.
"Ang ato nlang is mo intervene to participate for the resolution of annulment para sunod na dayon nato nga atubangon nasad is ang problema with MetroPac nga taas kaayo sad ang water rate," he said.
"If we get successful in annulling again the contract of MetroPac, then that's the time, that we conduct another bidding and this time, it is open to cooperatives and all other investors who are interested, this is what we want to achieve," Lao said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 10, 2017.