Nalzaro: Three MCWD board members ‘kapit-tuko’

Bobby Nalzaro

KAPIT-TUKO. This is how I literally describe the three remaining members of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD). “Kapit-tuko” means “hold or grasp of a tree lizard.” This, following their civil court action when they sued Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, the appointing authority, Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Acting Administrator Jeci Lapus and the three LWUA officials who were appointed as members of the interim board: Roberto San Andres, Eileen Dela Vega and Cristina Marcelina.

Except for former Councilor Procopio “Coping” Fernandez, the three others--Agustus Pe Jr., and lawyers Ralph Sevilla and Cecile Adlawan, all former Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s appointees--filed a petition before the court to issue a temporary retraining order and injunction to prevent the implementation of the termination order issued by Labella last Oct. 15. Board Chairman Joel Marie Yu, also a former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña appointee, resigned after a short resistance out of delicadeza. Fernandez was former mayor Michael Rama’s appointee.

Last Oct. 15, Labella issued a termination order against the five-man board following complaints from various local government units (LGUs) under the service areas of the MCWD because of “dissatisfaction” over the water firm’s poor performance. The respective legislative bodies of the LGUs also passed resolutions “castigating” MCWD’s poor service. Concessionaires have been complaining about MCWD’s dismal service as majority of its service areas has no supply of water. Other areas are experiencing water rationing.

The three petitioners questioned Labella’s termination order, claiming it was illegal and violated the basic legal norms as they were not given due process. They also questioned the takeover of the interim board appointed by LWUA. They asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction and asked for a “status quo.”

They also asked the court to stop the “harassing, intimidating and using of force in abuse of their authority in their quest to implement/enforce or on their continuing effort to implement and execute the herein mentioned illegal orders.”

Well, it is the rights of the petitioners to question such move by the appointing authority. Under Presidential Decree 198, the local chief executive of the LGU which has the majority of customers is the appointing authority. In the case of MCWD, whose franchise areas cover the Metro Cebu areas, it is the mayor of Cebu City. This has been a well-settled Supreme Court jurisprudence after then governor Pablo Garcia questioned this before the court. And since the mayor is the appointing authority, he has also the power to remove the board of directors as long there is a “cause.”

Aside from questioning what the petitioners are claiming to be “illegal termination,” they are also asking P1 million each in damages. Pagkabaga gud nila ug nawong, uy. What status quo are they talking about? Meaning, they want to be reinstalled? Because talking of “status quo,” which means “the current state,” they’ve already been fired. The termination order has already been served. In fact, there is already an interim board that took over their functions.

Labella is just waiting for LWUA‘s approval of his termination order upon review before he can appoint their replacements. But I don’t know why it’s taking LWUA too long to approve the termination order if everything is aboveboard? The LWUA should approve it now. Ang usa ra ba nga gihugon-hugon nga itudlo isip board member mao ang akong idol broadcaster ug columnist nga si Atty. Frank Malilong. Aw, kon makalingkod na si Idol Frank diha, siguradong sulbad ang problema sa supply sa tubig. Naa na siya’y gahum nga makatoltol sa tinubdan sa tubig kay “Divine Water” man na siya.