JOSE Daluz III, chairman of Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), is a former city councilor and the head of Panaghiusa Party. Panaghiusa allied with Partido Barug and Kusog in the 2022 elections that installed the current Mayor Mike Rama administration in Cebu City. Here's what I learned from the Daluz Tuesday, May 30, 2023, on the MCWD dispute that entangles him and Mayor Rama:

[1] THE SITUATION. MCWD Vice Chairman Miguel Pato didn't accept the position of chairman. Cebu City Mayor Rama's wish to have Chairman Daluz replaced still has to be acted upon by the MCWD board. Status quo, is that the situation?

Until now, the officers of the board are still the same, with me as chairman, Pato as vice chairman and (Jodelyn May) Seno as secretary.

The board received the letter from the mayor requesting "legal formalities" to oust Chairman Daluz and install Pato. The letter will be tackled in the next board session on Friday, June 2, 2023.

Traditionally, officers of the board may be removed by a majority vote. Worthy to reiterate, it is only the board that can elect, install and/or remove its officers. None other.

[2] BOARD WISDOM. Assuming the mayor can get the votes of his latest two appointees, he needs only one more vote to replace Daluz. Assess his chances.

I will not speculate. I will submit to the wisdom of the board.

WILL STAY AS MEMBER. Would you stay if the board decides to replace you as chairman but keep you as member?

Yes. If it is wisdom of the board, and will remain as a member because I have mandate for a fixed term until (December 31) 2024, which I tend to fully serve.

BOARD, MANAGEMENT TEAM. If the mayor can hire but not fire directors without the approval of LWUA, how can the LGU -- to which constituent consumers complain -- ever correct problems on water service?

The board is a policy-making body. There is a mechanism dealing matters regarding the board under the oversight power of LWUA. For problems of water service, there is a management team that deals with all types of complaints, in the regular course of its operations as a public utility.

[3] PRIVATIZING MCWD. One reason you cited why the mayor is pissed off is your resistance to MCWD's privatization. Who decides on privatizing? How does it go if MCWD privatizes?

This may be one of the reasons the mayor is angry: because the board outvoted a recent proposal from a private entity to privatize MCWD.

RISK OF PRIVATIZATION. Have you and the board seriously studied privatization. What's wrong and right with it? Nganong supak man ka? Didn't the mayor explain to you and the board why he's for it?

Let me be clear. I am not for the wholesale privatization of any basic utility.

Basically, private companies are profit-driven, and there is a risk that they may prioritize profit over ensuring universal access to clean and affordable water. There will be lack of accountability and loss of public control as a result of privatization.

[4] PRINCE WAREHOUSE. What's this about Prince Warehouse that the mayor wants to use?

MCWD owns the property referred to as Prince Warehouse, which is adjacent to the main office.

The mayor wants to use the property but does not want to pay the exact rental on the property. In fact, his team entered the property and made construction works even without a formal lease or contract.

[5] YOUNG LEADERS. You said you told your group that it needs younger leaders to run in the next election. That in effect would take out Mike as a still active mayor who's eligible for two more terms. With the 500 or so projects he has lined up, surely the current term wouldn't be enough.

The mayor is part of a broad coalition of political parties or groups. As a coalition partner, Panaghiusa proposes to give the young leaders a chance to be a part in the democratic selection of its candidates for the next elections. And considering the vast experience of the mayor, Panaghiusa is endorsing him for congressman or senator in the next elections.

[6] KINGMAKER OR KING. How much have you ruled out your own bid on the mayor's seat. You skipped two elections already. I'd think you'd prefer being kingmaker to being king. So all the fuss now is still politics-related even if you, again, won't run.

We are not bankrupt of good young leaders. And I am a party man, and I believe that a strong party leadership will deliver good public service for Cebu City. So, the proposal as mentioned is not only for me but for the party and the welfare of the people of Cebu City. Kingmaker or king, I am just a humble part of a noble cause to serve the City of Cebu and our people in whatever capacity.

[7] THAT COMPLAINT WITH OMBUDSMAN. You said the employees union didn't file a complaint with the Ombudsman. The mayor did by forwarding the said complaint to the ombudsman, which returned the case to the mayor. Bottom line: the complaint was not yet resolved, despite the change in union leadership. How can accountability work here?

The Employees Union sent the petition (not a complaint) to the mayor, copy-furnished to the Ombudsman. In response, the Ombudsman informed the mayor to take appropriate action within 10 days from receipt of the letter last September 2022.

There are now supervening events between the board and new union officers. A new union president now sits in board meetings as an observer and non-voting participant, for transparency and accountability. In fact, we recently signed the CNA with the New Union which demonstrated our unity and cooperation. I humbly submit that these events speak for themselves.

What was required by Ombudsman is appropriate action. But the mayor went ballistic and did not talk the matter privately (with me). Instead, he called a meeting not authorized to elect new officers of the board. Then he called a press conference removing me as chairman and installing Pato in my place, which were not in accordance with law.

I have no personal quarrel with the mayor. Our Partido Panaghiusa campaigned hard for his victory, particularly in the last elections together with the other coalition partners Barug and Kusug.