Council ‘dismayed’ by MCWD fight; Daluz to sue City officials

Council ‘dismayed’ by MCWD fight; Daluz to sue City officials
SunStar Local News GPX

THE Cebu City Council has expressed its “utmost dismay” with the current power struggle in the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) and urged all parties involved to de-escalate the conflict and focus instead on addressing the present needs of the public -- having access to water.

MCWD chairman of the board Jose Daluz III, meanwhile, said his camp plans to file a criminal complaint against City Administrator Collin Rosell, Budget Officer Jerone Castillo, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Harold Alcontin, and City Legal Officer Carlo Vincent Gimena for “trespassing, harassment, and (conduct) unbecoming of a public official” before the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday, April 19, 2024.

Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco sponsored a resolution, which the Council unanimously approved during the regular session on Wednesday, April 17, which said the current situation in the MCWD has eclipsed the more pressing issue -- the need to address the water supply amid the ongoing El Niño weather phenomenon.

“The public is worried that instead of addressing their concerns about water, the current conversation within MCWD is the internal dynamics, whereupon two boards, both claiming legitimacy, exerting control over each other as to who should sit at the helm of the government body,” said Cuenco in his resolution.

Cuenco said what was supposed to be internal dynamics within the water district has escalated into a public spectacle.

Last Tuesday, April 16, MCWD had to suspend some of its operations, including receiving water bill payments and entertaining reconnection requests, following a “security breach” experienced at its main office in downtown Cebu City.

On the same day, portions of Magallanes and Lapu-Lapu streets, both surrounding the MCWD building, were closed to motorists.

Some Cebu City Hall and Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) personnel, along with a City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) vehicle, were seen in the area.

This situation also prompted the council to request the CCPO, through its director, Col. Ireneo Dalogdog, to help ensure the peace in the city “by fairly addressing the concerns of all parties and upholding general welfare.”

Cebu City Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, who seconded the approval of Cuenco’s resolution, told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, April 18, that it is the mandate of CCPO to keep peace and order in the city and “not to take sides.”

“We don’t like CCPO to actually take sides; they are here to keep the peace,” said Garcia.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach the CCPO for its comment on the matter, but phone calls and text messages were unanswered as of this writing.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page Tuesday, the MCWD accused Cebu City Hall and Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA)-installed officer-in-charge (OIC) general manager John Dx Lapid of entering the MCWD main building on Monday night, April 15, forcibly gaining access to general manager Edgar Donoso’s office, and subsequently barricading and cordoning off MCWD’s office premises.

SunStar Cebu reported that Daluz and fellow board members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno, as well as Donoso, were able to enter the main office building only by 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Daluz, Pato and Seno had been suspended for six months by the LWUA on March 15, as the regulator sought to look into issues at the water district, including the alleged failure to comply with procurement laws. Donoso had been suspended for 90 days on April 12 by the interim board that the LWUA had installed on March 15 to replace the three board members. Donoso was suspended for defying the interim board’s request to turn over documents necessary for its probe on the issues at the water district.

The four MCWD officials do not recognize the authority of the LWUA to suspend them.

The LWUA replaced Donoso with Lapid, MCWD division manager for customer care, who was installed as OIC general manager. But Lapid lasted only four days in the new role, resigning on April 16 after some 70 people allegedly from the Cebu City Government entered MCWD’s main office on Monday night and entered Donoso’s locked office using a credit card, leading Lapid to feel that he had been used for politics.


In an interview on SunStar Cebu’s news and commentary program “Beyond the Headlines” on Thursday, Daluz said he was already reporting to his office at the MCWD building, saying their operations had returned to normal.

In a follow-up interview on the same day, Daluz said they will lodge a complaint against Rosell, Castillo, Alcontin and Gimena on Friday before the Ombudsman’s office.

Asked if they will also file a case against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Daluz said they would also file in due time.

“Dili gyud maayo ilang gibubat (What they did was not good). That is why we have to file a case,” Daluz said.

In a video sent to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, then OIC general manager Lapid, together with Rosell, Castillo and Alcontin could be seen arriving at the MWCD building on Monday night at around 9:44 p.m.

Daluz said the City Hall officials and employees “barged in” despite the objections of the security guards who told them that they did not have business in the water district.

“Ilang gi-threaten ang mga guard, so way nahimo ang atong mga guard. Nisaka jud sila sa taas. Pag-abot nila, ilang giingnan ang guard nga ablihi, giablihan ang fifth floor. Pagsulod nila, ila unta ablihan ang GM’s office, pero amo man to giilisdan og lock so di jud sila kasud. Apan ilang gigamitan og ATM card kuno,” Daluz said.

(They threatened our guards, so they could not do anything. They went up. When they got to the fifth floor, they told the guard to open it. So he opened the fifth floor. When they entered, they moved to open the GM’s office, but we had changed the lock so they could not enter. But they reportedly used an ATM card to open the door.)

Daluz pitied Rosell because Rama did not back him up, saying Rosell did not act on his own, but with the mayor’s directive.

Rama on Wednesday denied involvement in the events that occurred at the MCWD in the past days, saying the City was only providing assistance to the LWUA.

Daluz identified Alcontin as the person who opened the door to Donoso’s office.

Daluz said it was a forced entry because they were not MCWD employees.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Rosell said it was the security guard who opened the door for them.

Prior to the alleged barging by the City Hall officials into the MCWD building on Monday night, Lapid and the interim board, or the LWUA officials, were barred entry to the MCWD building on Monday morning.

This move came after a memorandum signed by Donoso dated April 15.

Last Monday, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the LWUA’s intervention in MCWD was untimely, creating confusion among employees and consumers as the province faces the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

She said if LWUA insists on interfering in the local water district, she may invoke the general welfare clause of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code, to ensure the status quo at the MCWD. / WITH CTL


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