Ex-COWD general manager sticking to her guns

Engineer Rachel Beja, the erstwhile general manager of Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD), is standing her ground and said she intends to bring her termination case to the attention of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) as she believes there was not enough reason to fire her.

Beja was unceremoniously fired by the COWD Board of Directors last February 21 for ‘loss of confidence’.

Beja said she filed the appeal to the CSC in Manila, asking the commission to review the Board's decision.

A copy of Beja's appeal was sent to the Board of Directors but they refused to receive it, Beja said.

"The board was changed in 2017. It was also at that time when things started to get tough. I cannot understand why they are angry at me," she said.

Beja, who has been COWD general manager for the past 6 years, supposedly incurred the ire of the board for seeking for a review of the joint venture agreement between COWD and Metro Pacific, the facility's new bulk water supplier.

In her petition for review of the contract at the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) last February 2017, Beja asked if the three options for MetroPac to address its requirement were all legal.

The three options include the construction of a new treatment plant, purchasing a bulk water from an existing water treatment plant, and the outright purchase of an existing water plant.

However, Beja said these questions were settled and the contract was eventually awarded to MetroPac.

Since she was served the termination order last March 1, Beja continues to report at her office.

"I was terminated. Maybe they mean I was fired because I was not reassigned to other positions," she added.

Engineer Bienvenido Batar Jr. is the new general manager of the water facility.

The COWD board members are Eduardo Montalvan, chairman, lawyer Mateo Delgencia as vice chairman, Soc Anthony Del Rosario as board secretary, Hilly Ann Quiaoit as the assistant secretary, and Concepcion Quiblat as the director.

It can be recalled that the entry of MetroPac to the city was met with some resistance by city officials who believed that the agreement may have inadvertently allowed the formation of a water cartel that may eventually dictate the amount consumers would have to shell out every month for clean water.

City councilors Teodulfo Lao Jr., Enrico Salcedo and Reuben Daba, together with lawyer James Judith, last year asked the Philippine Competition Commission to investigate whether COWD and MetroPac violated Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, a law that prohibits “anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominant positions, and mergers and acquisitions that limit, prevent, and restrict competition” which can be detrimental to consumers.
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