Sitio Avocado, Lahug residents: UP-Cebu to MCWD: Don’t give the fire victims water

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/RHM (The Freeman) - February 11, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The University of the Philippines-Cebu administration has asked the Metropolitan Cebu Water District to refrain from providing water connection to fire victims in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City without its consent.

It also asked MCWD chairman Renato Mercado not to take part in MCWD’s decision-making in relation to any water connection request since he is the husband of Dr. Lucelle Mercado, the city administrator with whom the school is at odds.

“UP-Cebu expresses its deepest concern in the event that these informal settlers would apply for water connection. As the registered owner of the said property, it is imperative that UP-Cebu’s consent and acquiescence be obtained before any installation can take place. Thus, UP-Cebu requests that MCWD refrain from approving any water installation without our written consent,” read the school’s January 22 letter addressed to Mercado.

MCWD received the letter, which was written by UP Cebu lawyers Rene Abcede Jr., Francis Michael Abad, and Sesa Anne Carla Balahadia with the authority of UP-Cebu Dean Liza Corro, last February 4.

“It has been brought to the attention of UP-Cebu, through a local newspaper, that MCWD provided free water to the occupants of Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug for a period of one month,” read the letter.

UP said it owns the area occupied by the informal settlers covered under TCT No. 31166. Furthermore, UP-Cebu filed a forcible entry case against the fire victims pending before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities IV in Cebu City.

“UP Cebu filed an injunction case against the City Government of Cebu and Dr. Mercado is impleaded as party-defendant. Thus, to remove any appearance of partiality, we humbly request that Mr. Mercado inhibit himself from the decision process,” read the letter.

Mr. Mercado, though, said yesterday that he will continue providing water to the area because of those with existing water connections. Besides, he said, water is a human right.

He, however, said MCWD will not entertain new applications, saying he will not meddle in the ongoing lot ownership dispute.

“We were asked not to provide water in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug. Kami, we are supposed to provide water where it is needed. Now, they have asked our management, they have asked MCWD not to provide water because the place is still under litigation,” Mr. Mercado said.

He said his stand as a chairman of the board of MCWD is that there has to be an ejectment order from the court before he will take out the water system there.

As to the request that he avoid taking part in decisions involving the lot, Mr. Mercado said there is nothing personal about delivering water to those in need.

“Ang baruganan sa siyudad has nothing to do with the baruganan sa MCWD kay kami, amoa gyud nang trabaho. Wherever there is disaster, we will provide water for free,” he said.

Sought for comment, Dr. Mercado also said the city’s actions on the controversial lot are independent of her marital status.

“It’s not very nice for an educational institution and government at that to say that it is not correct to give a person water when it is a basic right. And here we are claiming to be standing for the poor. So, how can these two principles live together? We know that UP is an institution that fights for the oppressed and here they are doing an act which is very oppressive,” she added. (FREEMAN)



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