Daluz cries ‘foul’

Daluz cries ‘foul’

METROPOLITAN Cebu Water District (MCWD) chairman Jose Daluz III believes that the Cebu City Legal Office’s (CLO) recommendation to remove him and other members of MCWD’s board of directors (BOD) may be an attempt to push for the “privatization” of the water utility.

City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo said in his investigation and recommendation report that the Joint Reply of Daluz and the BOD was not sufficient to answer the allegations of the former MCWD Employees Union (MEU) officers.

The former officers asked the City Government to remove the current BOD for a number of reasons including the deteriorating corporate health of the company, failure to address the water demand of its service area, the 70 percent increase in water rates starting this 2023, and the “irregular” joint venture agreements for the Cordova, Marigondon and Canjulao projects.

Castillo has recommended the removal of Daluz, Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno from the BOD, all of whom were appointed in 2019 by the late mayor, Edgardo Labella.

Daluz refused to acknowledge the recommendation and said that until he gets a notice from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), he will just continue to work as the board chairman and management is behind him in this situation.

Privatization

Daluz said the City Government is just trying to find ways or remedies to achieve its goal to remove him as chairman.

He speculated that aside from his removal the ultimate goal of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is the privatization of MCWD which he has refused.

Daluz has actively campaigned against the wholesale privatization of any basic utility because there is a risk that these private corporations may prioritize profit over ensuring universal access to clean and affordable water.

He added there is a lack of accountability and a loss of public control as a result of privatization.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach Mayor Rama and Castillo for their comments on Daluz’s allegations, but the city officials did not respond to calls and queries.

Daluz apologized to the MCWD consumers and employees and said he cannot “just stand back” and he must respond as what Rama is doing is interfering with the affairs of the MCWD.

“I just hope Mayor Mike Rama stops this. Let’s focus on our jobs. You know we’re working hard here,” said Daluz.

Removal

In a press conference on June 8, 2023, Castillo revealed that out of the 218 of 900 employees interviewed by Rama’s office, 45 percent stated that there are significant issues within MCWD, including water supply shortages, management problems and questionable projects.

Five percent stated that there are no problems, while 50 percent abstained from giving a response, according to Castillo.

“The present Chairperson and Members of the BOD have shown themselves incapable of fulfilling the mandate of their office thereby warranting their removal,” was stated in the recommendation as one of the bases and grounds for their removal.

Castillo said that ample time was given to Daluz, Pato, and Seno to reply after a show-cause letter was sent to them on May 22, 2023.

A joint reply to the show cause letter was submitted but was only signed by Daluz thus signifying that only Daluz responded, said Castillo.

The response from Daluz stated that the petition is a ploy to find fault with the BOD and that there is no basis for the show cause letter threatening his termination.

The City will now wait for the Ombudsman for any further action and is pursuing to file appropriate administrative and criminal actions. The government’s legal office stated that the MCWD’s actions are detrimental to the government and public service.

“There is a next step. My step is done. I have concluded the report because I committed to the mayor that I will conclude the report after they submitted their reply,” said Castillo./ RJM, DCL

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