Court issues TRO to stop water cut off by Cobi

ORO. City residents lined up with their pails and drums for water provided by water tankers and the Bureau of Fire Protection fire trucks.
ORO. City residents lined up with their pails and drums for water provided by water tankers and the Bureau of Fire Protection fire trucks. (Photo from CDRRMD-Oro Rescue)

A REGIONAL trial court in Misamis Oriental issued on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the city's bulk water supplier from cutting off its supply to the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) for three days over a disputed P479 million debt.

This after around 40,000 residents in at least 13 barangays in the city and Misamis Oriental experienced water shortage from 10 a.m. until midnight.

On Tuesday, Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (Cobi) and Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. released a statement, saying that it had shut off the pipe valves supplying water to the eastern and western parts of Cagayan de Oro as of 10 a.m. on the said day.

According to Cobi, despite making the effort to reach an amicable resolution with the COWD, they were forced to temporarily cut water services until the situation with the Water District was resolved.

However, in the evening of the same day, in a three-page decision, Judge Ana Candida Casino of the 17th branch of the Regional Trial Court in Misamis Oriental ordered Metropac Water Investments Corporation, Cobi and Rio Verde to cease disconnecting the water supply and distribution to the COWD.

The TRO is effective only for an inextendible period of 72 hours from issuance.

"Once ma-serve na ang TRO sa Rio Verde ug Cobi bisan paman kung ugma pa mapadala ang sa Cobi kay anaa man sa kaulohan, mahibalik gihapon ang tubig sa dakbayan," City Mayor Rolando "Klarex" Uy said during a press conference Tuesday evening.

The city mayor further said that the city will remain under a state of emergency.

"Padayon gihapon. Ngano man? Kay naa pa man hulga sa atong kahusay og kalinaw kay di ko gusto nga ang dakbayan magubot tungod sa problema sa tubig," Uy said.

Petitioners’ legal counsel Atty. Gregorio Miguel Pallugna, for his part, said the corporation is not allowed to arbitrarily disrupt or disconnect the flow of water just because of a corporate dispute.

"Ang rason nganong nag-file ta’g kaso ang atong argumento, ang away sa duha ka korporasyon, mahitungod sa ilang kwarta, koleksyon lamang kini sa increase nga wala sila nagkasinabot, dapat ilang i-file sa korte aron ma-resolba sa insakto nga pamaagi, dili ipa-agi sa pag-hostage sa tubig sa katawhan aron ma-pressure ang usa ka partido… because the people have the right to water," Pallugna said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the flow of water has returned in some areas of Cagayan de Oro. The City Government also continued to provide water through water tankers, the Bureau of Fire Protection, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Department, and volunteer fire trucks from private groups.

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