THE board of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) will not step down from their post even as the Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to “cease and desist” from performing their duties.
MCWD Chairman Jose “Joey” Daluz III said the Board will not heed the order of RTC Judge James Steward Himalaloan as he and other members of the current board are “strangers” to the case filed against Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Administrator Jeci Lapus.
“We cannot be ordered by the Court when we are not party to the case. This reduces our constitutional right to be heard. As of now, we are strangers to the case. We will not yield,” Daluz, a lawyer, said in an interview on Friday, March 19, 2021.
The other members of the current board are lawyer Francisco Malilong Jr. (vice chairman), Miguelito Pato (secretary), lawyer Manolette Dinsay, and Judelyn Mae Seno.
All were appointed by Labella in 2019.
In an order issued on Monday, March 15, Himalaloan said dismissed MCWD Board Members Ralph Sevilla, Jun Pe and Cecilia Adlawan should be reinstated in the next 20 days while members of the present board should “cease and desist.”
Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan had filed a case against Labella and LWUA on Nov. 8, 2019 for dismissing them from the Board.
“The parties, the respondents or the defendants of the case were Mayor Edgar Labella and LWUA whose actions were questioned. It did not include us (current) board of directors,” said Daluz.
“The Court has no jurisdiction over us,” he added.
Daluz said considering that they were never a party to the case, their refusal to yield to the court order could not be considered as defiance.
Daluz claimed they did not receive subpoenas from the court nor notices that that they were included in the case filed against Labella and LWUA.
Daluz said they will continue to exercise their functions as directors and will have their weekly meeting next week.
For his part, Amando Virgil Ligutan, counsel for the plaintiffs, said the TRO covers the present board as discussed during the hearing.
He said the present board should appear in the hearings so “they will know what’s really happening with the case.”
Ligutan said if the present board members choose to defy the TRO, they could be cited for contempt.
A motion for reconsideration was filed by Labella’s camp alongside their motion for Himalaloan to voluntarily inhibit from handling the case.
“Presiding Judge has already pre-judged the entire case because, at this early stage of the proceedings, the actions of the defendant mayor has already been prematurely declared as illegal,” read part of Labella’s motion. (JJL)