SC asks respondents to comment on dismissed BOD members’ petition

SC asks respondents to comment on dismissed BOD members’ petition
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THE Supreme Court has required six respondents to provide their comments on the petition filed by dismissed Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) board members Ralph Sevilla, Augustus Pe Jr., and Cecilia Adlawan.

However, two of the respondents are already deceased—the late Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and the late Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) acting administrator Jeci Lapus.

The other individuals who are still alive and respondents in the case are former interim MCWD BOD members Roberto San Andres, Eileen Dela Vega, and Cristina Marcelina.

MCWD was also named as a respondent in the petition asking the SC to review the decision of a lower court favoring Labella’s decision to dismiss the services of then MCWD chairman Joel Mari Yu, then vice chairman Sevilla, then secretary Adlawan, and then members Procopio Fernandez and Pe in 2019.

The SC instructed the respondents to file a comment and not a motion to dismiss the petition.

Amando Virgil Ligutan, counsel for petitioners Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan, said in a phone interview Sunday, March 31, 2024, that they welcomed the development, saying this means that the SC “takes cognizance of the case.”

A petition for review on certiorari is a document that a losing party of the case files with the SC asking it to review the decision of a lower court.

“After deliberating on the petition for review on certiorari, assailing the Decision dated June 30, 2023 and Order dated August 15, 2023 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 17, Cebu City in Civil Case No. R-CEB-19-09477-CV, the Court, without necessarily giving due course thereto, resolves to require: 1. respondents to file a comment thereon, not a motion to dismiss, within ten (10) days from notice,” reads a portion of the notice from the SC.

The notice was issued through a resolution dated Jan. 31, 2024, which the SaLiGal Law Office, where Ligutan’s works, received on March 26.


Labella in October 2019 terminated the services of Yu, then vice chairman Sevilla, Adlawan, Fernandez and Pe due to dissatisfaction among consumers with their performance.

Labella cited the loss of trust and confidence as the reason for their removal. Pe, Sevilla and Adlawan were appointed by former mayor Tomas Osmeña.

In November 2019, Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan filed a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction case against Labella and other LWUA officials. They argued that Labella’s act of terminating them had been done “without any valid cause and due process.”

In March 2021, Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan were reinstated by a 20-day TRO issued by RTC Branch 7 Judge James Steward Himalaloan.

However, the injunction case was dismissed on June 30, 2023, for lack of merit. Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan then filed a motion for reconsideration, which the RTC denied on Aug. 6, 2023.

On Aug. 31, 2023, Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan filed a 78-page petition for review before the SC.

Deceased respondents

Since former mayor Labella has already passed away, the court would inquire whether the successor plans to continue the actions of his predecessor.

Labella passed away on Nov. 19, 2021, while Lapus died on July 11, of the same year.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Labella’s successor, however, already filed a manifestation in court through the City Legal Office, in 2022, saying that he does not intend to continue Labella’s actions.

“He (Rama) is agreeing with Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan,” Ligutan said.

However, the development in this case may also affect Rama’s firing of MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III and two other board members.


Ligutan said the recent development will resolve the issue surrounding MCWD, explaining if the SC agrees with the petitioners that a mayor cannot terminate the BODs, then Labella’s action will be deemed null and void.

Asked if Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan will be reinstated if the SC agrees with the petitioners, Ligutan said his clients are not after the positions, saying they do not need the job.

Ligutan said Sevilla’s term has already ended while the case is pending; meanwhile, Pe’s and Adlawan’s terms will end in December 2024.

The legal counsel for LWUA and its officers is lawyer Ronald Guaren, while the Cebu City Legal Office represents the mayor.

He added the ruling of the SC would also provide answers to the question of the authority of the mayor to terminate MCWD BOD members.

Rama has issued an order removing Daluz, vice chairman Miguelito Pato and secretary Jodelyn May Seno from

their positions. They did not honor the mayor’s order.

They were replaced by Melquiades Feliciano, Aristotle Batuhan and Nelson Yuvallos.

Lawyers Danilo Ortiz and Earl Bonachita also joined Rama’s appointed board.

However, to investigate issues surrounding MCWD, particularly on the recent Commission on Audit findings, LWUA decided to take partial intervention of MCWD’s policy-making authority for six months.

LWUA administrator Jose Moises Salonga announced on March 15, the installation of LWUA officers, specifically members of the interim MCWD BODs, including Maria Rosan Perez, Noel Samonte and Anabelle Gravador, overseen by LWUA deputy administrator Dela Vega. / AML, WBS


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