MCWD directors sue Daluz, 2 others

MCWD building.
MCWD building.Google Stree View

TWO incumbent members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) board of directors (BOD) have lodged a criminal action against ousted MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III, and members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno for usurpation of authority and official functions.

According to a press statement dated Feb. 1, 2024, lawyers Danilo Ortiz and Earl Bonachita filed a criminal case against Daluz, Pato and Seno before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor on Jan. 31, 2024 for their ongoing and deliberate refusal to comply with their removal and termination from the MCWD board by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama on Aug. 1, 2023.

On Oct. 31, 2023, Rama appointed Melquiades Feliciano, Nelson Yuvallos and Aristotle Batuhan as members of the MCWD BOD to replace the trio. The new board members assumed office on the same day and held their first board meeting, during which Feliciano was elected chairman of the board.

However, Daluz continues to function as MCWD chairman today.

In filing the usurpation case, Ortiz and Bonachita sought law enforcement intervention, saying the “persistent usurpation of authority and official functions of the legitimate MCWD BOD” by Daluz, Pato and Seno had already affected the management of MCWD and was therefore detrimental to the provision of essential water services to the public.

MCWD serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Lapu-Lapu, and the municipalities of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Cordova.

Not us, but them

In a phone interview Thursday, Daluz said it should be Rama who should have a usurpation case due to his insistence on having a new board of directors even without confirmation from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

Daluz said his appointment as chairman and that of the others as members of the BOD had been confirmed by the LWUA, indicating that they had not violated the law.

“Asa man ang usurpation ana? Iyang appointed people nuon were not confirmed by the LWUA,” Daluz said.

(Where’s the usurpation there? In fact, it is his appointed people who were not confirmed by the LWUA.)

Daluz added that Rama is the one guilty of usurpation of power because he acted as presiding officer during a meeting of the board, declared to oust the chairman and members, and appointed new board members.

Daluz said Rama is not a member of the board; therefore, he had no power to preside over the meeting, and remove and appoint members.

“Dili man siya (He’s not a) member. He is the one committing the usurpation of power and duties because he arrogated himself nga siya ang (that he is a) member when he is not,” Daluz said.

Assuming that they had been ousted, Daluz said Rama’s camp did not follow the proper procedure, as the solicitation and nomination should come from the LWUA.

“Ni deretso lang siya’g appoint. (He went directly to the appointment.) That’s already a violation of the procedure... Then his appointed board members, nag meeting-meeting didto sa MCWD without any confirmation from the LWUA,” Daluz said.

Asked if he was willing to respond to the case filed against him, Daluz admitted that he had not yet seen the document nor been informed about it. But he said he was willing to provide a response.

“I would like to answer that because I know that’s the case... Binuang nga kaso ba nga wa na jud silay lain mahimo,” Daluz said.

(It’s an absurd case, showing that there’s really nothing else they can do.)

In a separate phone interview, Seno said she had not been informed yet about the case filed against her or received a copy of the document.

The case is for usurpation of authority or official functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.

Motives

On why Rama is intent on his removal, Daluz last year said it was likely because of his opposition to Rama’s moves to “privatize” MCWD or his personal suggestions on the political succession of their party coalition that involved fielding younger members to run for higher positions.

Daluz is president of the Panaghiusa Party, which formed a coalition with then acting mayor Rama’s Barug party and then Cebu City councilor, now Vice Mayor, Raymond Alvin Garcia’s Kusug party in the May 2022 elections.

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