MCWD employees to board: Resign!

·5 min read

EMPLOYEES of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) have called for the resignation of its board of directors as they fear the privatization of the government-owned utility provider amid its poor corporate performance in the past two years.

In a press conference at the Cebu Business Hotel, Cebu City Thursday, August 18, 2022, the MCWD Employees Union (MEU) said the water provider’s “corporate health is in critical condition.”

MEU president Abigail Almeria said MCWD’s income has plunged 62 percent, while the water supply that has been put to waste has skyrocketed to 30 percent.

Data presented by Almeria showed that from P211.35 million in 2019, the income of MCWD had been reduced to only P34.27 million in 2021.

The amount of non-revenue water had also increased from 23.66 percent in 2019 to 30.05 percent in 2021, she added.

According to Almeria, they received unverified reports that at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette (Rai), the water that was supposed to be given free to the affected residents was sold instead.

“Naa pa gyud mi nadunggan, kini siya unverified, nga dunay mga specific nga mga tao nga dunay resorts ug restaurants nga ilang hatdan,” said Almeria. (We’ve also heard, and this is unverified, that there are specific people with resorts and restaurants to whom they deliver the water.)

Almeria also lambasted the board for procuring millions of pesos worth of vehicles instead of investing in the repairs of damaged pipelines that could have reduced the percentage of non-revenue water.

“Unya ang MCWD sigeg pamalit og sakyanan... Daghan kaayong sakyanan nga wala mi kasabot nga ang funds imbes adto i-develop sa (water) source ug sa pag-ayo sa mga guba nga pipes... Tua namalit og sakyanan ug generator sets nga dili magamit kay inig andar kuwang ang power,” Almeria said. (We don’t understand why MCWD keeps buying vehicles. Instead of using the funds to develop water sources and to repair pipes, they bought vehicles and generator sets that can’t be used because when turned on, they lack power.)

The MEU also criticized the board’s intervention in the hiring of employees in the water district.

“Ang gipasulod gikan og City Hall, silingan ra sa MCWD. So nakita namo nga duna siyay mga pagintervene sa hiring,” said Almeria. (The employees they hired came from City Hall, which is close to MCWD. So we see that there’s been some intervention in the hiring.)

In an interview, MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III admitted that the water district’s income had decreased over the past two years but said this does not mean it will lead to privatization.

Daluz, a lawyer, attributed the low income to the pandemic and the devastation brought by Typhoon Odette.

The profit generated by the water district is also not a problem as long as MCWD provides good service to its consumers, he added.

Daluz further said that the only thing that the private sector can do to MCWD is to deliver bulk water supply since the water district had already established as leverage its vast network of distribution lines.

“Kaning mga private sector nga nakahatag namo og bulk water, amo man sad butangan og kontrata nga dili gyud sila mo compete sa MCWD. They will not put distribution pipes. I think that will strengthen that MCWD will just be here as a government-owned corporation,” said Daluz.

On the call of the union for him to step down, Daluz said it is up to the government officials who appointed the board to determine if they are still capable of running the water district.

“It is really for the people who put us here og satisfied ba sila. As far as we are concerned, bias man gyud kaayo mi kay kami man ang nahitungdan. Well, mapaagas namo ang Lusaran (Bulk Water Project) karong September... I believe that we are working hard for MCWD, for our water nga muagas,” he said.

In a statement later sent to SunStar, the management of MCWD also assured its customers that despite the financial difficulties it is facing, it continues to find ways to improve its services.

“The decline in the net income for the past two years was mainly due to the pandemic as most commercial customers have temporarily ceased operation due to the lockdown,” MCWD said.

“The onslaught of Typhoon Odette has also affected the water district’s expenses and contributed to the increase of its non-revenue water (NRW). MCWD had to rent water delivery trucks in order to serve the consumers that did not have water due to the massive brownout. The consumers were not charged for the water delivered to them, thus increasing the NRW. Several lines were also damaged causing leaks and water wastage,” MCWD explained.

The MCWD management also said all its transactions, including the hiring process, were “above board and in accordance with existing rules and laws.”

“MCWD management’s support for its Board of Directors led by its chairman, Atty. Jose Daluz III, has not wavered because the board’s policies and initiatives are geared towards the betterment of MCWD’s service for its concessionaires,” the statement read.

The management said both the board of directors and the management would continue to reach out to the MEU to iron out the “misunderstanding and issues that they have raised.”