Rama orders MCWD to stop digging without permit

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

THE Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) has been ordered to halt all excavations in Cebu City that have no permits.

“All MCWD digging should be stopped,” Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said in an interview on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024.

He said these should not be allowed because these create obstructions and disturb traffic.

Rama referred to the MCWD’s excavation in Barangay Busay, which he said was conducted without a permit.

As for the excavation at the intersection of Gorodo Ave. and Escario St. that caused heavy traffic Friday morning, Feb. 16, Minerva Gerodias, MCWD spokesperson, said they had to conduct emergency repairs on the main pipes under the middle of the road.

Gerodias, in a phone interview on Monday, said they needed to immediately repair the damaged pipes to avoid loss of water revenue as well as disruption of water services.

She also clarified that MCWD’s Pipelines and Appurtenances Department, which is in charge of leak repairs, always applies for a permit before proceeding with excavation works.

As for the project in Maracas, Barangay Busay, Gerodias said it is a road restoration job conducted by Jfap Constructions.

She said the MCWD currently doesn’t have any pipe-laying projects, as it awaits the release of permits to implement these.

“We have expansion projects. We already have winning bidders, but we decided not to implement these because our contractors were not given the permits to proceed,” she said in Cebuano.

SunStar Cebu also tried to get a comment from MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III regarding the matter, but he had yet to respond as of press time.

Meanwhile, the mayor said City Hall lawyers are handling the 30-day notice the MCWD issued to the City in the first week of February, to vacate the water district’s building that currently houses the satellite offices of the City Government.

“They can give 100 days or even 100 years or one-day notice, but they should never make that mistake.”

He pointed out that there are 50 city lawyers, including himself.

In a text message on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, City Legal officer-in-charge Carlo Vincent Gimena said the City will issue a statement by next week, adding that they still need to finalize their response.

The satellite office contains all offices under the executive department that were in the legislative building, but are not policy-determining offices. These include the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor and the City Hospitalization Assistance Management Program, and offices offering social services.

On Monday, SunStar Cebu reported that the MCWD board made the decision to issue the demand for City Hall to vacate the building in 30 days, after the two parties failed to reach an agreement regarding monthly rent of the building.

MCWD is demanding P700,000 in monthly rent, while the City is willing to pay only P200,000 a month in rent.

Despite the disagreement on lease rates, Daluz said MCWD allowed the City’s satellite office to stay in the building without paying rent since July.

SunStar Cebu reported that Daluz, in an interview on Sunday, Feb. 18, said the management is preparing to bid out the two-story building to a leasing company.

Daluz said they have to process the bidding despite not receiving a response from the City Hall regarding the demand letter.

Daluz, along with MCWD board members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno, were replaced by Rama last Oct. 31 with Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos. But all three have refused to step down from their posts.

Feliciano is the chairman of the Rama-appointed board.

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