Cebu News

Gwen asks court to stop Cebu City

- Rene U. Borromeo ug Mylen Manto -

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has asked the Regional Trial Court to stop Mayor Michael Rama and other Cebu City officials from appointing new members of the board of directors of the Metro Cebu Water District.

Garcia requested RTC Branch 18 Judge Gilbert Moises to issue a permanent mandatory and prohibitory injunction against the Cebu City officials, because she heard that Rama had already appointed former city councilor Manuel Legaspi and reappointed Juan Saul Montecillo as members of MCWD board.

According to the governor the provincial legal officers have been informed by the MCWD officials that Montecillo and Legapi’s new appointments as MCWD board members would take effect this January 1.

Garcia asked the court to order the Cebu City mayor to withdraw the appointments of both Montecillo and Legaspi and to refrain from appointing anybody to the water firm’s board of directors claiming that the right to appoint belongs to her as the governor of the Province of Cebu.

Rama earlier announced that he had appointed Legaspi to the MCWD Board to replace lawyer Benjamin Militar, whose appointment would expire tomorrow, and reappointed Montecillo as chairman of the board.

Militar criticized Capitol for interfering with the affairs of MCWD even though it has not contributed a single centavo to the water firm’s organization, operation, supervision and maintenance.

But Garcia argued by saying that while it may be true that the governor did not participate in organizing the MCWD and the Province of Cebu did not invest in establishing waterworks in the component local government units, the law does not impose any condition or restriction in transferring the power of the governor to appoint members of the board of directors when the percentage of the water consumers falls below 75 per cent.

The court already resolved the conflict on who has the right to appoint members to the MCWD board in favor of the governor.

Cebu City South district Rep. Tomas R. Osmeña has vowed to fight this case even if it reaches the Supreme Court.

Osmeña was not satisfied with the RTC ruling which cited section 3 (b) of Presidential Decree 198, which states “if more than 75 per cent of the total active water service connection of a local water district are within the boundary of any city or municipality, the appointing authority shall be the mayor.”

The court ruled that the law provides that when the water consumers of any local government units would reach 75 per cent, the appointing authority of the members of the board of the water firm shall be the governor within which the district is located.

Osmeña said granting that the water consumers within Cebu City fall below the 75 per cent requirement, but said such law was created when the city was still part of the Cebu province.

According to Osmeña the governor has nothing to do with the business of MCWD because Cebu City is already a highly urbanized city and is no longer part of her territorial jurisdiction.

But the governor insisted that Osmeña, Rama and the other city officials shall be prevented from appointing anybody to the MCWD board and should withdraw any appointments, such as those Legaspi and Montecillo, pending the final resolution of the case.

“An injunction against the defendants is necessary. The purpose of injunction is to prevent injury and damage from being incurred, otherwise, it will render any judgment in this case ineffectual,” Garcia’s lawyer Donato C. Villa said.

The present MCWD used to be the Osmeña Waterworks System, which was established during the term of then Mayor Sergio ‘Serging’ Osmeña Jr., Rep. Tom’s father.

The Osmeña Waterworks System was renamed to MCWD in 1974. — /NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

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