MCWD building.
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Daluz: Why scream ‘illegal’ over removal from BOD?

METROPOLITAN Cebu Water District (MCWD) Chairman Jose Daluz III has hit back at the camp of the recently removed members of the board of directors (BOD), lawyer Earl Bonachita and Danilo Ortiz, for calling their removal “illegal.”

“They want to have their cake and eat it too,” Daluz told SunStar Cebu on Dec. 24, 2023. “They do not recognize the board, yet they’re questioning and screaming ‘illegal’ in removing them,” Daluz added.

Bonachita and Ortiz were removed as members of the water district’s BOD during a board meeting by the Daluz-led BOD last Dec. 21. This was a month after Daluz issued a show cause order against the two for their failure to attend the Daluz-led meetings and for conducting “unauthorized” board meetings “with other individuals” in November.

In a joint statement on Dec. 4, Bonachita and Ortiz explained that they no longer recognized the Daluz-led BOD as three members of that board—Daluz, Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno—had already been officially terminated by the order of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and replaced by new BOD members retired Army Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos, last Oct. 31.

The remaining MCWD BOD members Ortiz and Bonachita witnessed this Oct. 31 oath-taking and took part in it to show their commitment to serve the government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), the Cebu City Government said.

Since then, Rama-endorsed chairman Feliciano has led his own board meetings at the MCWD building, while Daluz also continues to hold his board meetings.

Last Saturday, Feliciano called Daluz’s pre-Christmas removal of Ortiz and Bonachita from the board “illegal” and without “statutory basis.”

On the same day, Cebu City Legal Officer-in-charge Carlo Vincent Gimena also said the Daluz-led board’s removal of Ortiz and Bonachita was not valid or proper.

At the Dec. 21 meeting, board secretary Seno was tasked to prepare a list of 10 nominees that would replace the two removed members by Jan. 8, 2024, to be submitted to Rama for approval and appointment.

Bonachita and Ortiz represented the education sector and civil sector, respectively, and their term was supposed to end in December 2028 yet.

Technicality

Both camps currently agree that Rama has the power to appoint members of the board. The disagreement is on who has the power to remove BOD members.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu last Nov. 9, Government Corporate Counsel Rogelio Quevedo said based on provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 198, local government units (LGUs) have the power to appoint but not to remove BOD members of the water district.

He added that technically, the power to remove lies only with the board of directors itself given there is just cause for the removal.

In the case of the MCWD, Quevedo said the appointing authority was given to the Cebu City Government as the water district was first established to serve the constituents of Cebu City.

Section 7 of PD 198, as amended by PD 768, says that upon filing of the resolution to form a water district, the “local government or governments concerned shall lose ownership, supervision and control or any right whatsoever over the district except as provided herein.”

Section 17 of PD 198 further provides that “all powers, privileges and duties of the district are exercised through the board of directors.”

MCWD is a GOCC whose service area covers the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu and the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Cordova.

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