OUR neighborhood has been without water for three days now. I hope my friend and Metropolitan Cebu Waterworks District (MCWD) chairman Rene Mercado is already back from his study tour in the United Kingdom so I can relay to him the news just in case he doesn’t know yet.

I also plan to tell him that you can’t find any rich men in Calle Hubag, Villa Ispongklong, Sambag 1 but it has many registered voters. No, that is not a warning. It is a declaration of fact.

There is, of course, no truth to the rumor that my friend and the other MCWD officials in his party are in the UK to do some sort of technology transfer. I am forced to issue that clarification to dispel rumors that the MCWD leadership visited England, Scotland and Wales, among others, to teach the water districts there how to make their operations profitable from selling water disguised as air.

Who has seen the wind, I will recite this rhyme to the first MCWD bigwig I’ll meet. Neither you nor I but when the faucet screams and nothing comes out, the wind has just passed you by.

We have had rains during the last few days, although intermittently. They were heavy enough to wet some of my office records and damage one of our computers but not enough, unfortunately, to augment our drying, if not dried, dams and stabilize our water supply.

I will no longer complain that we were and still are ill-prepared for the weather disturbance known as El Niño. But I refuse to call the weather phenomenon “force majeure” as my favorite mayor described the city scholars’ dire situation at the school “once” owned by his favorite congressman.

If I remember my civil law correctly, force majeure is something that you cannot foresee or, even if foreseen, cannot avoid. We could have avoided El Niño but that was long ago, long before we damaged the earth’s ozone layer and induced global warming. Not only is that long past, the MCWD, for all the millions of pesos that it continues to milk its customers, couldn’t have done it by itself.

And speaking of millions, how much exactly are MCWD’s suppliers earning from the water district? No, I do not begrudge them their ROIs but isn’t it a little insensitive, if not scandalous, that some people should make a pile from something that the lack of which has made our lives miserable?

And still speaking of millions, how much of what we have paid the water district have gone to employees and officials as salaries, wages, allowances, bonuses and other benefits? I read somewhere that the Commission on Audit, in one of those rare moments where it has made itself truly useful, has found that millions of money in expenses for personnel benefits were erroneously paid and has ordered restitution.

That means refund, dummy, and I say that because you are (a dummy) if you actually believe that the water district will ever get that refund. Not in your wildest dreams. Not when MCWD management says that these benefits have been there for a long time and therefore could not be taken away without injuring labor law. Holy cow, they have been doing this for a long time?

I am incredulous but I am not angry. When you haven’t had a decent shower for three days, you cannot afford to get mad. You’ll stink more.

Instead, like a good Catholic, albeit not a particularly pious one, I will pray for rain. They say that prayer is not for emergency use only but I think God, in his infinite wisdom, will understand when a son cries help me, Father, because I haven’t had my shower and my armpits are threatening to smell.

Of course, I will also pray for my friend and his party’s safe voyage back home.

(frankotherwise@yahoo.com)