LWUA ‘has nothing to do’ with rift between Daluz-led MCWD, Rama’s Cebu City Hall

MCWD building
MCWD buildingGoogle Street View

THE Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) insists it has nothing to do with the rift between Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) and Cebu City Government, with its administrator saying the agency is neutral.

LWUA administrator Jose Moises Salonga said he has observed that the conflict is more personal.

“I would like to make it clear that LWUA is apolitical on this,” Salonga said in response to questions regarding the lockdown of MCWD’s main office on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

“LWUA will not get involved in this rift,” Salonga told SunStar Cebu in a text message Friday, April 19. “As far as LWUA is concerned, whatever allegations about politics are uncalled for. As a regulator, we will not allow any person or entity to use any water district to be used for politics.”

The rift between the Cebu City Government under Mayor Michael Rama and the MCWD board, led by chairman Jose Daluz III, began last year. The mayor attempted to remove Daluz, and directors Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno on multiple occasions, but he failed.

The LWUA, which regulates water districts, suspended Daluz and the rest of the board for six months last March 15, while it appointed an interim board to look into high non-revenue water loss among other issues at MCWD. It also suspended general manager (GM) Edgar Donoso for 90 days starting Friday, April 12. However, Daluz, Pato and Seno, and Donoso do not recognize the LWUA’s authority to suspend them, leading to tensions at the MCWD main office, where the four continue to hold office.

The rift between Cebu City and the Daluz-led MCWD was on full display last week.

On Monday morning, April 15, John Dx Lapid, the LWUA-appoined officer-in-charge (OIC) GM of the MCWD, was prohibited from entering the water district’s main office in downtown Cebu City.

This after the Daluz-led board implemented a lockdown, prohibiting Lapid and members of the interim board of directors from entering the water district’s premises.

However, past 1 p.m. Monday, Lapid was able to enter MCWD’s office with the help of the Cebu City Government officials led by City Administrator Collin Rosell.

Salonga told SunStar Cebu that LWUA had asked for “assistance to maintain peace and order, and secure MCWD’s facilities” from the Cebu City Government and Cebu City Police Office.

Later in the evening, Lapid, Rosell, City Budget Officer Jerone Castillo and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Harold Alcontin were seen arriving at the MCWD main office at 9:44 p.m. in a video sent to SunStar Cebu.

Lapid attempted to open Donoso’s office, but to no avail. However, Alcontin was able to open it using an ATM card. In a press conference Wednesday, April 17, Rosell said the security guard opened the door for them. He also denied allegations that they were there to get some documents.

On Tuesday, April 16, MCWD accused Lapid of barricading and cordoning off the MCWD main office in downtown Cebu City after the streets in the vicinity were suddenly closed to vehicular traffic in the morning.

But Lapid said only the City Government could implement a road closure.

In a press conference April 17, Rama denied being behind the lockdown, saying the City was only providing assistance to the LWUA.


For the alleged forcible entry of Donoso’s office, the Daluz-led board will be filing complaints against Rosell, Castillo, Alcontin and Cebu City Legal Officer Vincent Carlo Gimena before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on Monday, April 22.

The city officials will face charges for conduct unbecoming of a public official, violation of ethical standards and harassment.

Used for politics

Lapid announced on Facebook last April 16 that he was resigning as OIC GM because he was being used for politics. However, hours later, the line “I am being used for politics already” was removed.

When asked about this, Salonga said, “Atty. Lapid has personally told me that LWUA did not use him for political activities or gain.”

Regarding Lapid’s resignation, Salonga expressed gratitude to Lapid for accepting the challenging role of OIC GM.

“It is unfortunate that due to the harassment he received on (Monday) barring his entry to MCWD, threatening that his vehicle will be towed, being threatened with lawsuits, among many others—LWUA understands his decision to resign as the OIC GM. Let’s not forget the emotional weight and toll of all this to him and his family,” Salonga said. / AML


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.