CAGAYAN DE ORO

7 ‘concerned citizens’ to sue Oro’s water district

SEVEN “concerned individuals” are contemplating of filing another case against the Cagayan de Oro City Water District.

“Actually we’re on the stage of studying the case, whatever we can file against these people,” Ben Contreras, a local newspaper columnist and one of the people who started the group, said.

The group, headed by Contreras and former city councilor Celestino “Bob” Ocio, has been suspicious of the contract signing between the water district and Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp. on the bulk water supply and the dismissal of COWD general manager Rachel Beja.

Beja recently bared her intention to bring her case against COWD’s board of directors to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Ang grupo namin (Our group), about seven of us, gusto lang namin na magkaron ng hustisya at malaman ang katotohanan kasi very suspicious ang signing pati na yung pagtanggal sa general manager [Rachel Beja] (we just

want justice and to know the truth because the contract signing is very suspicious, also the dismissal of the general manager),” Contreras said, hinting on the possibility that there was bribery involved.

“Isipin mo ha, problema na ng water district natin yung NRW, non-revenue water, so problema na nila yan tapos ngayon dagdagan pa nila ng almost 60 percent increase ng water rate so lalong mas lumaki ang problema nila (Think about it, they already have a problem over the non-revenue water and now they are adding the almost 60 percent increase in the water rate, making their problem bigger). Is it a sound business for the board? Na yun ang gagawin nila, sound business ba yan (Doing that, does it look like a sound business)? I don’t think so,” Contreras said.

He further said the COWD should be transparent as the water facility is a “government-owned institution and not a private institution” as such, there should be public consultations before the COWD enters into a contract.

Contreras also criticized two members of the board of directors, saying they were newly appointed at the time of the contract signing and have not studied nor scrutinized the contents of the contract.

“And to think two of the board of directors bago lang sila na appoint, two days pa lang sila dyan tapos pumirma sila sa isang P2 million na deal (they were newly appointed, they were only in the position for two days and they just signed the P2 million contract deal), without going through the paper or the contract or without studying it, scrutinizing it? Anong klaseng board member yan hindi mo i-scrutinize (What kind of board member is that, not scrutinizing it), you just sign the contract,” Contreras said.

Barangay 23 chairman Jaime Joshua Frias II, one of the members of the group, for his part, said he wanted to turn COWD into a cooperative.

“As for me, I am an advocate of turning COWD into a cooperative. Kay magpakabanha kita kay hadlok kita nga kung ma-privatize, mosaka ang presyo na (We are aware of the possibility that once the COWD will be privatized, the water rate will increase and) we no longer control the price or sa mga (in the) serbisyo. We found out nga mas maayo ang cooperative na magdala sa water district (it is better if the cooperative takes over the water district),” Frias said.

At present, Contreras said they are still in the process of contemplating and studying, and will be able to file the case once they have sufficient funds from voluntary donations.

Frias, meanwhile, added they are also considering on getting the services of James Judith as their lawyer. The names of the other members have not been disclosed, as of Monday, April 09.


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