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Thursday, September 19, 2019
CEBU

Nalzaro: Protest against MCWD chair looms

Saksi

SOURCES said that a protest is looming at the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) against the chairman of the board Joel Mari Yu to pressure him to resign from his post as he was an appointee of the previous administration and because of some questionable transactions entered into by the water district under his watch.

The MCWD board has five members and they elect a chairman among themselves. The present board members are: Joel Mari Yu, as chairman; former Cebu City Councilors Procopio “Coping” Fernandez and Agustus Pe Jr., former City Attorney Ralph Sevilla and lawyer Cecile Adlawan. They all serve for six years. Except for Fernandez, who was appointed during the time of former mayor Mike Rama, all the others were appointed by former Mayor Tomas Osmeña. The city mayor is the appointing authority of the MCWD board.

When Tomas won in the 2016 elections, he filled up the board with his appointees like Yu, Pe, Sevilla and Adlawan as it was also timely that other board members’ terms like Eugene Elizalde, Manuel Legaspi, Juan Saul Montecillo expired. Former chairman of the board Rene Mercado’s term expired last year.

But before Mercado’s term expired, he was forced to step down as chairman after Osmeña threatened him that the City Government will not support MCWD’s programs and projects if he will remain as chairman. When the elections came, Mercado just delivered a brief speech and announced that he was relinquishing his position to Yu, a trusted man and drinking buddy of Tomas.

The source said an influential person with strong connection to Malacañang had a one-on-one talk with Yu, and asked him to relinquish his position. But Yu was allegedly very arrogant in defying the “request,” saying nobody can fire him except the board. He is relying on the majority of the board members who like him are Osmeña’s appointees.

That is the reason some MCWD personnel are planning to stage a protest and are also contemplating filing charges against him because of some allegedly anomalous transactions. They are still compiling documents on some of Yu’s alleged anomalous transactions. From a private entity to a quasi-government, MCWD is now a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). charmaine Rodriguez-Kara, MCWD’s public affairs manager, said she hasn’t heard such report about an impending protest. She described Yu as a good performer and very transparent. Well, let us see if Yu will not succumb to the pressure. But let me be clear on this, Mayor Edgardo Labella has nothing to do with this planned protest.

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If Vice Mayor Michael Rama has his way, he wants to build a jail facility that would house the inmates from Cebu City Jail and Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC). This in a way will decongest the two jail facilities located in Barangay Kalunasan. Rama said the new jail facility will be built outside of Cebu City and that the two existing jail facilities will be converted into a drug rehabilitation center for drug dependents.

I don’t know if Rama’s proposal is feasible? Why? Because the city jails and provincial jails are run by two separate entities. City and municipal jails are managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), while provincial jails are directly under the provincial governments.

Now, who will finance the construction of the “unified jail facility”? The National Government? The National Government even failed to improve our penal system, like the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa and other penal colonies in the country, which are under the Department of Justice. Then who will manage the jails? The BJMP or the Capitol? Will the City and Capitol share the operating expenses like food for the inmates?

The situation might be complicated. Why not just improve the city and provincial jail separately and just build separate rehabilitation centers for drug dependents?


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