MCWD Board on LWUA’s move to get members’ comment on termination order: 'What for?'

Jerra Mae Librea

THE remaining members of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) questioned the move of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) directing them to submit their comments on their termination days after it had approved the termination order.

In a letter dated Oct. 25, 2019, the LWUA directed MCWD vice chairman Ralph Sevilla to submit his comment on the Notice of Termination issued by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella within five days from the receipt of the letter.

“You are hereby directed to submit your comment to the said Notice of Termination within five calendar days from receipt hereof, copy furnished the Mayor, who is directed to submit his respective comment within the same period upon receipt of the concerned director’s comment,” the letter of LWUA acting administrator Jeci Lapus read.

The letter also stated that failure to submit the required comments would “be deemed a waiver of the same and the issue shall be based on existing documents and records.”

Lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, counsel of the three remaining members of the MCWD Board of Directors, pointed out that the letter was sent to the three members 10 days after Labella issued the termination order, which LWUA did not object to.

Labella served on Oct. 15 the order to terminate the services of board chairman Joel Mari Yu, Sevilla, board secretary Cecilia Adlawan and members Procopio Fernandez and Augustus Pe Jr. following widespread dissatisfaction of the water utility’s services in the past months.

In his letter to Labella dated Oct. 1, Lapus said his office interposes no objection to the former’s plan to remove the incumbent MCWD officials as it is consistent with Section 11 of Presidential Decree 198, or the Local Water District Law.

“Now, Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan are asked to explain their side. What for? This is a classic case of ‘condemn first before you hear.’ This won’t pass scrutiny in our courts of law,” said Ligutan.

Ligutan also pointed out that LWUA already appointed an interim board to replace the terminated members of the board on Oct. 21.

He said the termination did not follow due process.

“Mayor Labella and LWUA could not put their acts together. This is a charade that is not well-coordinated in its execution,” he said.

“Mayor Labella and LWUA are on damage control at this point. They are rectifying the grave mistakes they committed in wanting to terminate Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan without due process,” he added.

Yu resigned from his post on Oct. 21, effective immediately, the same day the LWUA installed the interim board.

Eugenio Singson Jr. also resigned as general manager effective Nov. 1.

On Nov. 8, Pe, Sevilla and Adlawan filed a petition for a temporary restraining order and injunction against Labella and officials of LWUA before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City. (JJL)