Former PRO 7 chief opposes move to raise water rate in Sogod, Cebu

Former PRO 7 chief opposes move to raise water rate in Sogod, Cebu
(Pixabay Photo)

THE former chief of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 has filed a petition before a Danao City court to stop the local government unit of Sogod from implementing the approved ordinance that would increase water rates by 150 percent.

Retired major general Jose Marie Espino and his wife Rose Espino of Sogod town filed a writ of preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court of Danao City to declare the Municipal Water Code null and void.

Identified as respondents are Sogod Mayor Lissa Marie Streegan and the members of the council.

Espino said the increase in water charges will reach 150 percent according to Municipal Ordinance 15-2003 (the Municipal Water Code) passed by the council and approved by the mayor on Nov. 14, 2023.

No public hearing

Espino added that the municipality did not hold a public hearing about the increase in water charges.

“Last year, I heard there would be an increase in water rates. They kept it under wraps. The municipal and barangay officials were the only ones who conducted public hearings. There were just about 50 of them,” Espino said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The residents and merchants of Sogod are one in their opposition to water rate hike.

“I started the cause for the no to water increase in Sogod. I was very vocal. I took the cudgels for the people of Sogod because why would they increase the water rate when there was no public hearing,” according to Espino.

The former police general explained that Sogod is a second-class municipality and that the increase in water charges is not justifiable especially since the income of the residents is not high.

“The administrators said we could not do anything anymore because the ordinance has been passed. But they can’t implement it now that I filed a temporary restraining order,” he explained.

It is also unfair for the municipality to increase water rates while it was unable to meet the citizens’ needs for enough water supply.

Apart from this, their water becomes brown when it rains.

Water rate

Before the ordinance was passed, the minimum water rate in the town was only P100 per 10 cubic meters, but with this new ordinance, it will increase to P250 per 10 cubic meters, which Espino described as “unjust, excessive, oppressive and confiscatory.”

In his petition, Espino disclosed that the ordinance implementing the water code in Sogod is unconstitutional and invalid “on the ground that it directly contravenes the 1987 Philippine Constitution and other laws.”

“The enactment of such unconstitutional ordinance constitutes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Legislative and Executive branches of the Local Government Unit of the Municipality of Sogod,” reads a portion of his petition letter.

“You should not increase the water rate by more than 10 percent based on the laws that I have read, and no water increase within five years. We now have the most expensive water rate in Cebu,” Espino said.

The former PRO 7 head believes that the enactment of the new water code is in connection with the local government’s plan to privatize the waterworks system.

Furthermore, he refuted the idea that his opposition was motivated by his desire to run in next year’s midterm elections.

“That’s why I’m making noise because I’m going to run, but I’m not going to run,” said Espino. / AYB, TPT


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