Cowd-Rio Verde case: Lawyer hopeful court will grant petition

IF THE court will grant it, lawyer James Judith said their presence in the nullification case of Cagayan de Oro City Water District (Cowd) and Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. (RVWCI) will play a significant role in settling the differences between the two parties.

In an interview, Judith said they remain hopeful that their motion to intervene with petition-in-intervention filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 38 last November will be granted by the court within this week.

Once the two parties start their court proceedings this month, Judith said their participation will try to make Rio Verde stay as the bulk water supplier of Cowd, given its cheap water price at P10.45 per cubic meter.

MetroPac, which is the incoming bulk water supplier in Cagayan de Oro City, sets its water price at P16.35 per cubic meter.

The court proceedings have yet to start as the two parties try to reach an amicable settlement in court.

But if the settlement fails, Judith said the two parties will automatically go back to trial with the council’s possible participation.

City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. said their role as "intervenors" would be to fight if only to mend the two parties' relationship.

In the court proceedings, Lao wants to add in the Rio Verde-COWD contract that Rio Verde should be penalized if and when water interruption occurs.

Lao said they will also push to remove the "exclusivity clause" of the Rio Verde-Cowd contract to give chance to other water players.

"We will give the Cowd the freedom to negotiate with other bulk water supplier and welcome the cheapest one," he said.

Lastly, Lao said they will also urge Rio Verde to file a case against Cowd for entering into a joint venture agreement while their contract is still binding.

"While we can stop their separation, we must exhaust all ways to prevent it. If they insist to separate because of the COA disallowance, we want to tell them that they should let the court decide on that matter. Whether correct or wrong ang COA when they said the contract is onerous, it's the court who should decide and not for them to insist," he added.

Last November 7, Judith and Councilors Lao, Reuben Daba and Eric Salcedo filed a petition before the same court in an effort to provide the councilors a legal standing in the case proceedings between the Cowd and the RVWCI on the nullification of the latter’s bulk water supply contract with the water utility now pending in the same RTC branch.

In the petition penned by Judith to the court, he said the “intervenors” or the councilors have a legal interest on the matter because it concerns with the assertion of a public right.
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