AMID the dispute over the management of the water utility, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) under the camp of Jose Daluz III has voiced its desire to give the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, as well as the Cebu Provincial Government, representation in the water district’s board of directors.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, Daluz said 49 percent of the water district’s service connections are from areas outside Cebu City, so it would only be fair for the towns and cities outside Cebu City “to have a voice on the board.”
However, if such move were to be carried out, this would dilute the Cebu City Government’s influence over the MCWD, whose chairman Daluz and board members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno have not recognized Mayor Michael Rama’s move last October to replace them with new board members Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos.
The situation has led to boards led by Feliciano and Daluz leading their separate board meetings inside the MCWD building, and investors confused about the status of their water projects with the MCWD.
However, Daluz has found an ally in Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who still recognizes Daluz as MCWD chairman.
Sought for comment, Jerone Castillo, former city legal officer and current city budget officer, said he has yet to discuss the latest development with Mayor Michael Rama.
MCWD serves eight local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu: Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay cities, and Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela towns.
In a chat message, MCWD spokesperson Minerva Gerodias said Daluz proposed extending board representation to the highly urbanized cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, with their respective representatives to be endorsed by their local chief executives, during their board meeting on Wednesday.
Similarly, the governor would endorse the representatives for the five local government units under the Province of Cebu.
As of December last year, MCWD had 205,882 service connections, with Cebu City having 104,996, Mandaue City 33,474, and Lapu-Lapu City 17,639 connections. The combined service connections in Talisay City and the towns of Cordova, Compostela, Liloan and Consolacion totaled 49,773.
The names of the representatives from these LGUs would undergo confirmation by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).
SunStar Cebu reached out to Rama for comment, but he had not provided one as of press time.
Governor Garcia recognized the position of the LWUA acknowledging Daluz as the chairman, and Pato and Seno as board members.
Both LWUA Administrator Vincente Homer Revil and Government Corporate Counsel Rogelio Quevedo have said the Cebu City Government has the power to appoint but not to remove board members of the MCWD.
However, the Cebu City Government insists that it has the power to remove the trio from the board, since the Cebu Regional Trial Court upheld in a ruling on then mayor Edgardo Labella’s right to remove MCWD directors Agustus Pe Jr., Ralph Sevilla and Cecilia Adlawan from the board, that the mayor’s right to appoint also gave him the right to fire the members of the board.
Daluz said Rama’s move to remove him from the board came after Daluz opposed Rama’s plan to “privatize” MCWD.
Rama denied moves to privatize MCWD.