Acting GM to cooperate with LWUA probe

John Dx Lapid has been appointed by the Local Water Utilities Administration interim board to temporarily replace Metropolitan Cebu Water District general manager Edgar Donoso, who was placed under preventive suspension for  90 days last Friday, Apri 12, 2024. /
John Dx Lapid has been appointed by the Local Water Utilities Administration interim board to temporarily replace Metropolitan Cebu Water District general manager Edgar Donoso, who was placed under preventive suspension for 90 days last Friday, Apri 12, 2024. / CEBU CITY PIO

THE acting general manager of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) will work with the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) while it is investigating high non-revenue water (NRW) and other issues at the water district.

John Dx Lapid, MCWD division manager for customer care, said he will also formulate measures to alleviate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon during his tenure.

In a phone interview on Saturday, April 13, Lapid told SunStar Cebu that the LWUA’s interim board informed him on Friday, April 12, about his temporary appointment following the 90-day preventive suspension of general manager Edgar Donoso.

The LWUA suspended Donoso on Friday because he continued to defy the interim board’s request to turn over documents regarding the MCWD’s transactions and he failed to respond to a five-day notice to explain his decision.

Lapid said the MCWD will provide the LWUA with whatever it needs in its investigation.

“They are asking for signed contracts, pending projects, mga COA (Commission on Audit) disallowance, so mao ni ang ilahang gipangayo nga documents (those are the documents they are asking for),” Lapid said.

“By Monday, I will be meeting the managers, the rank-and-file, and (I) will assure them that there will be no vacuum of power that will happen. Rest assured with our consumers that our services will remain. Walay mausab (Nothing will change),” he said.

The interim board has requested for police to be deployed at the MCWD office in downtown Cebu City to prohibit suspended Donoso and regular board of directors chairman Jose Daluz III, along with vice chairman Miguelito Pato and secretary Jodelyn May Seno from interfering with the investigation and from pressuring water district employees.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach Donoso and Daluz for comment, but to no avail.

“They kept on insisting that there is no due process of what’s happening right now, but preventive suspension of our GM and suspension of our board of directors is part of the due process and they can find it in different jurisprudence,” Lapid said.

Nothing to hide

“If we are not hiding in the water district, there should be no problem at all,” he said.

He said the dispute between LWUA and the MCWD BOD is “illogical” as the water district needs LWUA to approve its pending tariff rate increase application.

Lapid said the tariff rates need to be raised because of the water district’s contracts with different water suppliers which come at a higher cost.

“We badly need our tariff increase because of our new (water) sources,” he said.

He said if the increase is approved, then commercial users will subsidize the water rate of residential users.

“Mao gyud na ang design sa tariff nato sa (That’s how the tariff was designed at the) MCWD,” he said.

On March 15, Daluz, along with Pato and Seno, was suspended for a period of six months in order for the LWUA-installed interim board to investigate issues surrounding the water district.

But the trio has refused to step aside or to cooperate with the LWUA’s investigation.

According to the Cebu City Government’s public information office (PIO), the interim board was able to pass the resolution suspending Donoso only after it was finally able to hold its first meeting inside the MCWD building on Friday.

Gaining entry to the board room was not easy, as the MCWD’s executive committee refused to recognize them.

According to the Cebu City Government’s report, Jorge Gabriente, MCWD assistant general manager for technical services, said Donoso had instructed him not to let the interim board enter the MCWD board room. But Gabriente later relented after a lawyer for the LWUA said he could face charges for defying them.


The resolution suspending Donoso was signed only by MCWD interim board chairperson Maria Rosan Perez, vice chairman Noel Samonte, secretary Anabelle Gravador, and member Rey Asterio Tambis, as fifth member, lawyer Manolette Fel Dinsay, was not present.

It is not known when Tambis and Dinsay were installed as members of the interim board, as the LWUA’s order installing the interim board on March 15 mentioned the designation only of Perez and engineers Samonte and Gravador as interim board members.

The PIO further reported that newly installed MCWD acting manager Lapid, a lawyer, asked his fellow employees to comply with the LWUA’s order and cooperate with the regulatory body’s investigation.

The MCWD, under Daluz as chairman, entered into various contracts for desalination projects in Barangay Opao, Mandaue City and in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City to each deliver 25,000 cubic meters of water per day to the water district.

However, these were criticized due to the expensive water rate, which would affect the coffers of the water district.

In a tit for tat, the interim board is set to issue a resolution to bar Donoso and suspended MCWD board directors Daluz, Pato and Seno from entering the premises, the PIO said.

Last March 21, LWUA Chairman Ronnie Ong said the reason the regulatory body suspended MCWD’s board led by Daluz was so the LWUA could investigate MCWD for its high NRW, alleged failure to comply with procurement laws, and its questionable application for a 70 percent water rate hike.

Daluz, Pato and Seno have been holding on to their posts even after Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama fired them last year and replaced them with retired major general Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos last Oct. 31, while retaining Danilo Ortiz and Earl Bonachita as board members.

The three, as well as the now suspended general manager Donoso, have questioned the LWUA’s authority to undertake the March 15 takeover of the board and sought the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel’s (OGCC) opinion on the matter which, handed down on March 26, was interpreted by both the LWUA and the MCWD as being in their favor.

Following the release of the OGCC’s opinion, the LWUA’s lawyers last April 3 served the final demand notice to Daluz, Seno and Pato to vacate the premises of MCWD’s office and stop usurping the authority of its interim board — which was again ignored by the trio.

The MCWD provides water services to the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, and the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela. (EHP, AML, CTL)


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