New COWD manager: It's business as usual

THE acting general manager of Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) on Wednesday, March 14, said the squabble between the board of directors and dismissed general manager Rachel Beja will not affect the water utility's operations.

Bienvenido Batar Jr., who assumed as general manager last March 1, declined to comment on the controversy and said he is will just focus on the operations of the COWD.

"Operations at COWD are now my responsibility. The current issue has not affected our operations and we assure the public that it is business as usual at COWD," he added.

City councilors are worried that the conflict could affect water services especially if it worsens.

Meanwhile, lawyer James Judith confirmed that he had already informed the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) about the current dispute among COWD officials.

Judith, one of the personalities seeking the voiding of the COWD and MetroPac Water Investments Corporation (MWIC) deal, also urged Beja to sign a sworn statement on her views about the said contract.

Judith said their legal efforts are continuing at the PCC and said they expect the body to come up with a resolution on April 5.

"If we win, this will be a landmark case and will hopefully end the monopoly of companies supplying water to water districts," he said.

Judith last year said the COWD, together with MetroPac and Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. , may have manipulated the price of water when they signed a tripartite agreement that effectively ‘cartelized' the local water industry, thereby controlling the price of tap water and restricting competition.

In the complaint submitted by Judith to the PCC, Judith said the entry of MetroPac will lead to an increase in water rates, from P10.45 to about P16 per cubic meter.
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