Rama to help appointees get paid

WAITING FOR COMPENSATION. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has vowed to facilitate the release of the honorarium of Melquiades Feliciano (above), Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos, whom he appointed as members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District board of directors last year.
WAITING FOR COMPENSATION. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has vowed to facilitate the release of the honorarium of Melquiades Feliciano (above), Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos, whom he appointed as members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District board of directors last year. SunStar file

MORE than three months have passed since their appointment, and Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) chairman Melquiades Feliciano said on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, that they have yet to receive their honorarium.

He also said the matter has not been discussed during their board meeting.

Cebu City Michael Rama, for his part, assured that the City Government will help Feliciano and his two other appointees get what is due to them.

Rama appointed Feliciano, Nelson Yuvallos and Aristotle Batuhan as members of the MCWD board of directors (BOD) to replace MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III, and members Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno on Oct. 31, 2023.

From MCWD

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Feliciano said the board has not discussed their honorarium, which will come from the coffers of the water district.

Meanwhile, Rama, in a press conference, said Feliciano, Yuvallos and Batuhan will receive their compensation as soon as possible.

Financial obligation

The mayor said the water district has a financial obligation to his appointees, as they are “legitimate” MCWD board members.

He clarified that Feliciano and company are not employed by the City Government.

Rama assured that the City Government would facilitate the release of their compensation despite the refusal of their predecessors to step down even with a termination notice.

According to Section 13 of Presidential Decree (PD) 198, or the “Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973,” each board member is entitled to receive compensation for each board meeting that he or she has physically attended.

It will be equivalent to one percent of the mayor’s monthly salary for a first-class city, while “no director shall receive other compensation for services to the district.”

In a separate interview, Daluz told SunStar Cebu that Feliciano, Yuvallos and Batuhan are not yet entitled to any compensation and benefits from the MCWD until the three are officially recognized by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

In the case of incumbent BOD members Earl Bonachita and Danilo Ortiz, Daluz said they no longer receive compensation and benefits even though the LWUA recognizes them, due to their constant absences from board meetings led by Daluz, Pato and Seno.

Daluz also pointed out that the compensation provision of PD 198 had been amended.

He said Rama currently earns around P200,000 a month. If the original provision was followed, he said each board member would receive P2,000 per board meeting.

But Daluz said he receives around P40,000 per month, excluding benefits and allowances, for attending four board meetings.

Meanwhile, Feliciano said they have been conducting board meetings outside the MCWD headquarters in Cebu City so as not to cause unnecessary conflict.

On Jan. 31, 2024, Bonachita and Ortiz filed a criminal case against ousted Daluz, Pato and Seno for usurpation of authority or official functions after they refused to step down from their positions.

Feliciano told SunStar Cebu that they are praying for the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor to side with them.

As for the legitimacy of his appointment, Feliciano said Rama’s appointing power and the “power to remove” have already been ruled valid by the Regional Trial Court and supported by a previous LWUA decision.

He said they are waiting for the LWUA’s affirmation and reply to their earlier request regarding their appointment.

Better and more efficient

Feliciano said they are focusing on formulating policies to improve the water district’s efficiency in providing better service to its consumers and the management structure.

They are reviewing all bulk water supply proposals and agreements entered into by their predecessors. This includes reassessing the water district’s assets and resources, particularly the possibility of additional water sources.

Feliciano said the old MCWD BOD ventured into sourcing water from desalination plants that convert brackish and salty water into potable freshwater, which is expensive.

He said this will be detrimental to consumers, as their monthly water bill will abruptly increase due to the cost of the desalinated water.

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