PROTESTING workers of Cagayan de Oro Water District (Cowd) have found an ally with at least two progressive groups that will join the union’s picket line Tuesday.

Engineer Antonio Young, president of the nearly 400 First Labor Union of Cowd (Flow), said they welcome the sympathy extended by the Starex-Piston transport group and the AnakPawis party-list in their cause.

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"We welcome all groups and individuals who are in solidarity with our cause," said Engineer Young. "We're here because we want to protect the interest of water consumers, who are the biggest losers once the anomalies inside the water district continue."

Starex-Piston and AnakPawis have scheduled indignation protests in at least two gasoline stations owned by Shell and Caltex in the morning Tuesday.

Their next stop on midday would be the Flow break time protest outside the Cowd headquarters along Corrales Street.

Wildon Barros, AnakPawis regional coordinator, said they support Flow’s protest against the water utility’s “illegal” water supply contract with Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc.

In an emailed statement, Barros said they also find it appropriate for Flow to oppose another water supply deal with Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. (RVWCI), together with the City Government.

Flow insisted that the proposed second water supply agreement be carried out only after the issues surrounding the anomalous 2004 Bulk Water Supply Project are settled.

For management officials who support Flow, an additional water supply agreement with RVWCI would bleed the financially ailing water district dry.

State auditors said the awarding of the Bulk Water Supply Project (BWSP) contract to RVWCI and signing in December of 2004 were tainted with fraud.

In a report late last year, the fraud division of the Commission on Audit found that contract for BWSP was different from the model contract, which was the basis for the bidding of the project.

The discrepancies, it said, were aimed at giving due advantage to RVWCI. It also found out that the board then had “consistently” awarded the project to RVWCI even if the company was repeatedly discovered to be unqualified to participate in the bidding.

Young said the discrepancies in the contract threaten to affect the cost of water, potentially affecting even household water users.

“We’re not protesting for our own sake; we’re protesting against the irregularities within the water district to protect the interest of water consumers,” Young told Sun.Star.

Meanwhile, members of Starex-Piston and AnakPawis said they will form picket lines at a Shell station near Cogon market around 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The protesters will then head to a Caltex station in Corrales Street before joining the Cowd union picket.

Barros said their protests are aimed at showing their disgust against the unstable prices of fuel.

He said it was important that the impact of the oil price increase be mitigated, especially that the country is experiencing El Nino. (NJM/DVA)