Bzzzzz: Mayor Mike roots for Guv Gwen's leadership in entire Cebu. 'Where are MCWD's generators?' still not answered. Garganera thinks money-making on Veco re-lighting is 'all istorya.'

·4 min read

LEGISLATED METRO CEBU. In a written "public statement," dated Thursday, January 13, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama acknowledges the leadership of Governor Gwen Garcia as leader of the entire Cebu. He wrote, "Barug Sugbo! Sa liderato ni Gob. Gwen Garcia sa tibook Sugbo, buhaton ta ni under One Cebu Island Policy, United in Action."

No Cebu City mayor ever did that before, a veteran City Hall watcher said.

Not Tomas Osmeña, who had served at least thrice in multiple terms as mayor (1987-1995: 2001-2010; 2016-2019), all the time behaving as if he and his city were second to no other chief executive and LGU.

Not Mike Rama, who had served one stretch of two terms as mayor (2010-2016), most of the time acting as if he didn't need to declare the city's supremacy. Gwen was governor from 2004-2013 and 2019-2022; thus there have been several years when she ran Capitol and Tomas or Mike ran City Hall. In the current term, Gwen and Mike have been the duo at the scene because of the frequent medical leaves and eventual passing away of Mayor Edgardo Labella.

Apparently, the twin crises made Mayor Mike realize that Cebu has to act as one and it wouldn't hurt if the mayors of the island would have the governor as the leader. In a number of controversies in the time of the pandemic, it has been Guv Gwen who spoke out to the national agency IATF and the central government.

If Mike and Gen would win, chances for a Metro Cebu Development Authority -- long snagged because Tomas didn't want the city to have equal vote with the other LGUs - might finally be created by legislation.

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'WHERE ARE THE GENERATORS?' MCWD liaison on LGUs Cesar Pelarca was asked that question, during the Cebu City Council session Wednesday, January 12, by Minority Floor Leader Nestor Archival Sr. Archival wondered why the water supply company had to rely on Veco to power its pumps to resume supply of water to its consumers. The councilors must have obtained that information earlier in one of its consultations or public hearings.

Before Pelarca could answer, he pulled out, or was cut off, from the Sanggunian platform. Other guests -- such as Veco, other water suppliers, and the telcos -- gave their reports while waiting for Pelarca to surface again.

In a related information, posted on Facebook last December 29, 2021, by Arturo Barrit, a BOPK candidate for councilor, said there were 27 generators that were part of the P376-million grant of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency through its Sustainable Water Fund. MCWD contributed more than P112 million, while Vitens Evides International gave P38.5 million as counterpart while two other entities contributed P16 million. All that money was for the purchase of generator sets for the various wells of MCWD within Metro Cebu. And Barrit's allegation didn't get an answer from City Hall or the MCWD managers and directors.

Archival, however, didn't raise Barrit's information. Nor did the BOPK councilor follow up when MCWD's Pelarca -- after finally getting back on the Sanggunian digital platform -- answered vaguely that the gen-sets were moved or transferred to other pumping stations.

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'EVEN FBI CAN'T SOLVE VECO CASE.' Councilor Joel Garganera's fellow councilors (Eugenio Gabuya Jr. and Alvin Dizon, among others) and Veco itself recognized the problem of unidentified persons -- "possibly the contractors and subcontractors or the linemen" -- extorting or trying to make money from the massive task of re-energizing Cebu.

But nobody has formally filed a complaint or come forward with evidence against specific persons. For that reason, Garganera said these are "all istorya" and unsubstantiated. That's unfair, he said, to the visiting linemen from other electric companies outside Cebu. He is as unconvinced as Gabuya and Dizon are convinced.

Councilor Raul Alcoseba told the Sanggunian that bringing in the NBI -- which Veco's Mark Anthony Kindica, assistant vice president for engineering operations, earlier said it has done -- or "even the FBI" wouldn't resolve the Veco issue. There must people brave enough to come forward, Garganera said, otherwise it's just plain gossip. Maybe that could embolden those in the know to supply the evidence and prove Ang Panday wrong.

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CONFLICTING REPORTS. On another point, where claims in reports clashed: Veco's AVP Kindica told the councilors his company already re-energized 62 of MCWD's pumping stations, while Pelarca said that out of MCWD's 68 stations, there were still 14 not powered by Veco.

What Pelarca's information ultimately brought to the surface: MCWD's inadequacies already existed even before the pandemic and the typhoon. Odette just worsened the situation. There were already problems of low pressure, scarcity of supply, and the like.

And, yes, MCWD still has to answer the inquiry, "Where are the generators?"

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