Rama washes hands of MCWD lockdown

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.File photo

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has denied being behind the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) lockdown on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

In a press conference on Wednesday, April 17, Rama said the City was only providing assistance to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

“LWUA is supposed to be in control,” he said.

On Tuesday, the local water district accused John Dx Lapid of barricading and cordoning off the MCWD main office in downtown Cebu City after the streets in the vicinity were suddenly closed to vehicular traffic in the morning.

But Lapid, who was appointed officer-in-charge general manager (GM) of the MCWD after the LWUA suspended GM Edgar Donoso for 90 days last Friday, April 12, said only the City Government could implement a road closure.

On Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia having a convergence meeting with municipal mayors regarding the power struggle at the MCWD, Rama said: “I don’t care! They can always have it, but they should always remember they are the province and we are the city.”

Rama said the City cannot stop supporting the LWUA, especially since what is at stake is water.

He questioned the rule of law which the MCWD under Donoso and the board led by Jose Daluz III follows, asking whether it is the law of the governor.

The LWUA had suspended Daluz and the rest of the board for six months last March 15, while it appointed an interim board. It also suspended Donoso for 90 days.

But Daluz, fellow directors Miguelito Pato and Jodelyn May Seno, and Donoso do not recognize the LWUA’s authority to suspend them, thus the tensions at the MCWD main office, where the four continue to hold office.

No message

Asked if he had a message for the governor, Rama said he had none, adding that the governor doesn’t need one from him.

He pointed out that Garcia was a law student and comes from a family of lawyers who all know what is in the Local Government Code.

“Siya mismo magsige’g sulti nga dili manghilabot sa (She’s the one who has been saying that she won’t touch the affairs of) Cebu City kay (because) it belongs to the City (Government), there is a mayor, it’s a highly urbanized city, and now why is she intruding?” Rama said.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Administrator Collin Rosell said Lapid wrote a letter to him, asking for assistance so Lapid could enter the MCWD main office in downtown Cebu City on Monday, April 15.

Lapid also wrote a letter to the mayor with the same content, according to Rosell.

Lapid was barred from entering the MCWD building last Monday.

Later that night, he, Rosell, City Budget Officer Jerone Castillo and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Harold Alcontin were seen arriving at the MWCD main office at 9:44 p.m. in a video sent to SunStar Cebu.

Lapid attempted to open Donoso’s office, but to no avail. However, Alcontin was able to open it.

During the press conference on Wednesday, Rosell said the security guard opened the door for them. He also denied allegations that they were there to get some documents.

He said their presence at the MCWD main office was not only legal, it was moral. He said it may have also been “divine.”

Lapid’s accounts

Lapid had a different memory of what transpired Monday night.

“Hindi nila mabuksan ang pintuan ng (They could not open the) GM’s office. They tried to borrow the key from the guard, pero wala (but he didn’t have one). But they used an ATM card, so nakapasok (they were able to enter). I was there inside; I was just watching them. Wala akong magawa (There was nothing I could do) because they’re prepared. Pinaupo ako dun (I was asked to sit down); I took pictures, and I said, ‘Mali na ‘to (This is wrong). They’re doing something. They’re using me already,’” Lapid told Governor Garcia on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Lapid posted on his Facebook account that he was resigning as OIC GM because he was being used for politics.

However, hours later, the line “I am being used for politics already” was removed.

Castillo was disappointed by the development, but Rosell said anyone has the freedom to resign like any other employee.

The MCWD announced Wednesday morning that operations at its main office have returned to normal.

It had suspended some frontline services, including water bill payments and reconnection requests, on Tuesday due to an alleged security breach at its main office.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your patience and understanding during yesterday’s disruption of frontline services,” MCWD’s advisory said.

It also directed employees to report back for duty. / AML, JJL


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