Mayor Rama mum on including town reps in MCWD’s board

CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
CEBU. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.File / Photo from Cebu City PIO

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has chosen to keep mum on the proposal of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) under the camp of Jose Daluz III to give the highly urbanized cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, as well as the Cebu Provincial Government, representation in the water district’s board of directors.

Rama said Cebu City Administrator Collin Rosell and Cebu City Budget Officer Jerone Castillo, along with his chosen MCWD chairman, Melquiades Feliciano, will be the ones to speak on the matter.

“Kana mga matter ana, I have attorneys Collin Rosell and Jerone Castillo. Also, I have Melquiades Feliciano. Sila na ang mo articulate ana. I don’t want anymore to add up,” Rama said during the “Ingna’ng Mayor” program on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.

The mayor described these men as “materiales fuertes” (strong materials) and having “cerebral” competence.

Rama added that he also has the RBTA, his son Mikel Francisco Rama’s law firm, focusing on MCWD issues.

He said he has confidence in the expertise of the mentioned individuals.

Among the issues facing the water district is the refusal of chairman Daluz and members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno to step down from the MCWD board of directors despite their having been fired by Rama last Oct. 31 and replaced with Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos. Two boards are now holding separate board meetings in MCWD.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Daluz had said 49 percent of the water district’s service connections were from areas outside Cebu City, so he believed it was only equitable for these areas to have representation on the board.

MCWD serves eight local government units: the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay, and the towns of Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

As of December last year, MCWD had 205,882 service connections.

Cebu City accounted for 104,996 of the connections (51 percent), Mandaue City 33,474 (16.2 percent), and Lapu-Lapu City 17,639 (8.6 percent). The combined service connections in Talisay City and the towns of Cordova, Compostela, Liloan and Consolacion totaled 49,773 (24.2 percent of connections).

Under the proposal broached by Daluz during their board meeting Wednesday, the Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu mayors would endorse their respective representatives to the MCWD board, as would the governor for the five local government units under the Province of Cebu.

Widening the representation in the MCWD board would dilute the Cebu City Government’s influence over the MCWD board, whose chairman Daluz and members Pato and Seno have not recognized Rama’s move to replace them, as 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 MCWD board members.

SunStar Cebu is still attempting to contact Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes for comment, while Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan said he still needed to learn more about Daluz’s proposal before commenting on the matter.

Presidential Decree 198, or the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973, states that the board of directors of a local water district shall be composed of five citizens of the Philippines who are residents of the district.

Rama’s Feliciano-led board already has five members after lawyers Earl Bonachita and Danilo Ortiz from the previous board joined the new board.

With this, Daluz has been left with just a three-member board—or all those who had been fired by Rama.

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