Mora: Maka kabag man ning mga kaabag (The drought of ideas)

Rat’s brain

I AM interrupting the “Why Am I Running Series” which is really a timeline of events relative to the election of the Moreno administration. I do so with both trepidation and passion.

Passion because I have always been vocal about my opinions about the state of our public affairs and trepidation as we all know that the one who wears the crown in general, are an insecure lot. But more so with their sycophants. The horde whose lifeline seems to be solely dependent upon the political life of their boss.

This really innovative battle-cry “Kaabag dili Babag” now begs clarification as it seems that one is considered as “Babag,” if one questions policies and directions of the present dispensation. But how did one get into power anyway?

It has been pretty clear from the start that social media groups have been practically ignored after the victory of the mayor in 1992. Maybe it was really the vote-buying which made the difference BUT, I will always hold it true for myself that it was also the conscientization of the youth and middle class by social media which mushroomed after the failed handling of Typhoon Sendong which made the difference.

This article is really about my reservations and maybe even total objection over the proposal pending before a city council committee, where Councilor Ian Nacaya wants us, the water consumers to pay for environmental services because we are using water, a resource generated from our watersheds, rivers and aquifers.

This started with my post at Mata Na CDO where I enumerated various points which explains why I believe that water consumers should not be the one to pay for the rehabilitation of the watersheds. Though noble, I stated, that the “road to hell is paved by good intentions”.

Reading articles from local dailies, it was written that the idea of rehabilitating the watershed came from the brainchild of Archbishop Ledesma, a known lover of the environment, the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Project. This project is headed by Ms. Hilly Roa-Quiaoit as its executive director as googled from the internet.

Ms. Roa-Quiaoit now sits at the board of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD), appointed by Mayor Moreno to represent the women’s sector. This post used to be occupied by a man during the past administration. And I did wonder in the same post whether the Archbishop is even aware that his idea is now being used to tax the water consumers.

I have no problem with the brainchild of the good Archbishop nor would I cast aspersions on the character of Ms. Roa-Quiaoit and the Honorable Ian Nacaya. BUT. For an exclamation point to a comment by Councilor Nacaya’s office “Pag attend mo!” is way out of line. When taxpayers ask questions, the governors are duty-bound to reply. And one does not demand presence at the city council meeting as if it were a subpoena.

We all know that the past general manager Ms. Rachel Beja was sacked by the present board for many reasons. But she did mention during that controversy over her dismissal that there was no need to increase the water rates for the consumers, even if the MetroPacific deal, which wanted an increase in the price of bulk-water, succeeds. Now comes this proposal of Councilor Nacaya, for the COWD to collect from all water consumers an approximate total of P600,000 monthly for the City government, who will then manage the amount to restore our watersheds to keep our faucets from running dry. It is basically a tax, a new one, because we use water.

My first objection is that it should be the one who exploits the resource who should pay for the restoration of the watersheds, and not the people. We do not earn directly for the consumption of water. It is the COWD and their private suppliers. Fact is, water has become so expensive for us to drink, as what comes out of our faucets makes us sick, and therefore rely on water refilling stations, adding financial burden to our water consumers. And now this additional tax?

I question the percentage of non-revenue water or NRW, which then stood at a ridiculously high of more than 50 percent during the past administration. These are water produced but lost through leakages and illegal connections, and even probably political accommodation. How much is it now? The acceptable NRW is I believe at 15 percent. The years of inefficiency has even made COA disallow cash advances and bonuses, which were ignored. Has those advances and bonuses been addressed? How many millions in savings will COWD generate if they only reduce the NRW to acceptable levels which in turn may be used for the restoration of these watersheds?

For one who took part in the various mass actions against the inefficiency of the management and Board of Directors of the Cagayan de Oro Water District of the past administration, we welcomed the change.

But it seems that the recent developments is showing that it is merely a change in faces and names, instead of policy and direction. I could be wrong So please clarify what Kaabag really means to the present administration. Otherwise, it will be the same “sit-down puppy and play dead” culture we fought hard to remove. (to be continued)


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