Malilong.
Malilong.SunStar file

Malilong: Let MCWD be

The Other Side

I have worked at the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) for three years and I grieve for the people who have been dragged into the power struggle that now grips the water district.

It should have only been Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama versus MCWD Chairman Jose Daluz III. That was what it was in the beginning, a personal war that from the looks of it could still climax in the 2025 mayoralty election.

Rama wanted Daluz, a declared 2025 rival, replaced as chairman. As the chairman is elected by the board, he tried to convince at least one of the holdover directors to join his two appointees in carrying out his plan. However, neither Jodelyn Mae Seno nor Miguelito Pato could be tempted notwithstanding Rama’s offer to make Pato the new chairman.

Angered by the rebuff, Rama fired all three, replacing them with his own appointees. Daluz and company dug in.

Both camps went to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). Rama won the board over to his side but Daluz got the support of the LWUA administrator.

Then a new administrator took oath. It did not take long for the LWUA to suspend Daluz, Seno and Pato and install an interim board. The three continued to dig in.

Curiously, not a single case was filed with the courts despite the intense maneuvering that at one point threatened to become physical.

When Rama fired Daluz, the MCWD chairman could have gone to court but he did not. Rama could also have sued Daluz over his defiance but he did not.

When the LWUA intervened and suspended him and the two other directors, Daluz could have gone to court but again refused. It would have been an interesting issue for the court to determine whether the LWUA could suspend directors who have already been fired by the mayor.

The LWUA did not bring to court Daluz’s intransigence either. Instead, they employed the help of Rama’s men to gain entry to the MCWD and install John DX Lapid as acting manager. He resigned the following day, however.

I know Lapid, having interacted with him at least twice when I was working at the MCWD. He is a decent young man who probably thought that he could help by accepting the LWUA offer after the more senior officers had turned it down. I would not be surprised if he is now being ostracized by people who are sympathetic to Daluz. There are many employees like him, neither pro-Rama nor pro-Daluz, who could be dragged into the conflict, if they haven’t been yet.

Rama versus Daluz. Daluz versus Rama. “Isn’t it amazing,” asks former mayor Tommy Osmeña, “that the news today is about the squabble in MCWD between Daluz and Rama? Fogotten is the worst water shortage ever. People don’t matter?”

Tommy says he has a solution that is inspired by the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament. “Both sides were turned into pillars of salt. If that happens here, we can focus on the shortage of water and not the shortage of leaders.”

Not that harsh, Tom. Maybe, we could just ask them instead to table Rama versus Daluz until May 2025 and let MCWD be.

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