Angeles water district execs face graft charges

ANGELES City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. has filed graft charges against officials of Angeles City Water District (ACWD) before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

The filing of charges was in connection to the alleged irregularities in a bulk water supply deal the water district forged with a private firm.

Lazatin filed the complaint against ACWD general manager Reynaldo C. Liwanag, chairman Bernardo P. Cruz, directors Fidelio L. Sibug, Gracela G. Munoz, Deogracias T. Sambilay III, and Hernando Angeles.

Also included in the complaint were A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corporation president Andres M. Gatbonton, who also owns A.M. Gatbonton Ventures Corporation, and Aleth Cruz for allegedly having "conspired with the public officials."

The water district officials were charged with violation of Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act) for allowing A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corporation to supply bulk water to the ACWD without the approval of the City Council.

The ACWD personnel were also slapped with grave misconduct charges, a violation of Section 7 (a) of Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees).

The complaint was filed after the City Government discovered that A.M. Gatbonton was selling bulk water to the residents of Cuayan and Santo Domingo without permit.

The private water firm also allegedly violated a zoning ordinance and does not pay business taxes, the mayor stated in his complaint.

The City Council passed several resolutions questioning the "illegal operation" of the bulk water supplier.

It found out that Gatbonton was granted an authority by the ACWD Board of Directors through a Notice of Award released on May 26, 2018.

It was also discovered that Gatbonton was merely leasing the land where its pumping stations were constructed.

Lazatin said the water district had put the lives, health, and safety of the public at risk because the said pumping stations did not go through the regulations of the local government.

SunStar Pampanga tried to get the side of the ACWD officials but failed. Liwanag declined to issue any statement regarding the formal charges filed by Lazatin.

Liwanag earlier belied the accusations of irregularities in connection with the deal with Gatbonton.

He previously said that the ACWD management, including its officials, is open for any investigation and all of the transactions of the water facility are above-board.

"We welcome any investigation on all our business. We are not hiding anything here," Liwanag said earlier.


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