THE chairman of the board of directors of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) on Friday, November 10, told the City Council that the contract between the water utility and MetroPac Water Investments Corporation (MetroPac) will not be exclusive and will allow the COWD to source water from other suppliers.
Eduardo Montalvan, during Friday's hearing of the committee on public utilities, said the COWD will invite other bulk water suppliers if needed.
"Yes we can invite other water suppliers if we need to, especially if there is still not enough supply," Montalvan said.
Councilor Teodulfo "Bong" Lao Jr. welcomed this development, saying the new contract could end the water problems in the city, saying there is a chance that Cagayan de Oro could have multiple water suppliers in the future.
Lao said he will soon introduce a firm to the COWD that offers more water but lower water rates for the consumers. Lao said the water firm can supply bulk water at P10 per cubic meter as opposed to the supposed asking rate of MetroPac which is at P16 per cubic meter.
Montalvan also said it is impossible for the COWD to enter into a new contract with Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc (RVWCI) given all that has happened between them and the Commission on Audit's notice of disallowances to COWD which has now reached billions of pesos.
Montalvan explained that the COWD cannot grant Rio Verde's request of rate increase, from P10.45 to P16.35 saying doing so would make COWD employees legally vulnerable.
"The COWD cannot grant the request because all of us will go to jail if we will grant the request because the Commission on Audit says the contract is fraudulent. Without the nullification of contract, our hands are tied,” Montalvan said.
Lawyer Earl Anthony Gambe, representing RVWCI, said the COWD should not invoke the contract as a basis for the rejection of its request.
"If they are indeed honoring the contract, why are they still ordering 40,000 cubic meters per day? They should go to jail for that because every purchase is disallowed by COA," he said.
"The need of the people is the basis of your continued purchase, not the contract, so don't enforce contract on us every time we ask for an increase," Gambe said.
Montalvan, meanwhile, assured the Council that the new bulk water supplier of COWD will offer better services to the people and said the water crisis will not happen under MetroPac.
"They have assured us, they have track record and the fact that they own Maynilad is a good thing," he said.
Montalvan said there will be no abrupt water rate increases. Rate increases, he said, will go through a process “which would very much involve the public."
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 11, 2017.