Bzzzzz: Can 4 lawyers, one businessman solve water crisis?

OF THE 25 persons who were reportedly considered by Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella to replace the five directors of Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) whom he fired October 15 last year, four names were mentioned in news stories. And all three were among the five new appointees announced Tuesday, January 7.

The four are:

[1] Jose Daluz III who replaced professional sector's Cecilia Adlawan;

[2] Francisco "Frank" Malilong Jr., in place of Joel Mari Yu of the education sector;

[3] Alvin Garcia, in place of the women sector's Procopio Fernandez (sole appointee of then mayor Mike Rama; the rest were Tomas Osmeña's appointees); and

[4] Manolette Dinsay, in place of civic sector's Ralph Sevilla.

The fifth new director, Miguelito Pato, replaced business sector's Augustus Pe Jr.

Four of five were the early favorites and landed in the list. Daluz has been prominently mentioned as the chairman, indicating he is the mayor's choice for the top post. And the person talking about what the new board will do has been Daluz.

An interesting "trivia" bit is that ex-mayor Alvin, who replaced Proc Fernandez, will continue what Proc started by occupying the women's sector post. Proc took over from Joy Pesquera.

Only one has been picked from recommendees coming from other LGUs that MCWD serves: Manolette Dinsay who has long served as a lawyer of Gov. Gwen Garcia.

Lawyers: 4; water expert: 0

The question of skeptics, after Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella announced the new lineup of MCWD directors, was whether four lawyers and one businessman -- with no known water expert -- can solve the water crisis more quickly that any of the water district's past boards could?

The four lawyers are Joey Daluz, Frank Malilong, Alvin Garcia and Manolette Dinsay. Pato, endorsed by the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is said to be a businessman.

The board though mostly lays down policies and does oversight functions on its programs. While expertise on water helps, the directors can get needed facts and similar data from past studies and future studies available to the board from water experts. More needed are policymakers who can get things done quickly, people who can navigate the waters of bureaucracy and are sympathetic to the plight of water consumers.

But then, we also had lawyers in the MCWD board before? What makes them any different? They know that the people they replaced were sacked because they failed to solve the water crisis. That could be a forceful and compelling motive to do better.

Professional sector omitted

Only four sectors are required by the Local Water Utilities Act of 1973 to be represented in the board: (1) "civic-oriented civic clubs," (2) "business, commercial and financial institutions," (3) "educational or religious institutions," and (4) "women's organizations."

How about the fifth member? There is no mention of a "professional" sector which Daluz (or before him, Cecilia Adlawan) is supposed to represent. Maybe because the leaders in most sectors are also professionals.


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