FORMER Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña will file four cases against Mayor Edgardo Labella before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over the latter’s removal of five members of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).
Charges of usurpation of authority or official functions, violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Grave Misconduct were lodged by the former mayor against Labella.
Aside from Labella, also included in Osmeña’s complaint is acting Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) head Jeci Lapus.
Lapus approved Labella’s request to include three of his five appointees to the MCWD Board.
Osmeña claimed that Labella committed criminal and administrative liabilities for illegally removing the MCWD’s past board members composed of Joel Mari Yu, former Cebu City councilors Augustus “Jun” Pe Jr. and Procopio “Coping” Fernandez, and lawyers Ralph Sevilla and Cecilia Adlawan.
“Though I am not a lawyer, the law is clear to me--a city mayor can only appoint but cannot terminate, members of the Board of Directors of a local water district,” said Osmeña in his complaint.
Osmeña cited a memorandum circular issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that states that local water districts are autonomous from the mandate of local government units.
On Dec. 5, 2019, Pe, Adlawan and Sevilla filed a case against Labella and the LWUA to nullify the notice of termination issued against them.
They also sought the court’s intervention concerning the LWUA’s decision to appoint an interim board at the MCWD.
In his affidavit, Osmeña recalled that on Oct. 1, 2019, Lapus agreed to Labella’s order to terminate the former board members.
But 23 days later, Lapus sent a notice to the former BOD members to respond to Labella’s notice of termination against them.
“Isn’t this a classic case of ‘condemn first before you hear’?” Osmena said, in his complaint. (PAC / JKV )