Cebu News

Metropolitan Cebu Water District: Rama behind privatization?

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman
Metropolitan Cebu Water District: Rama behind privatization?
MCWD Board Member Jodelyn May Seno said she broke her silence not to defend anyone but to tell the truth with the hope of making the people understand the issue.

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has allegedly brokered a move to privatize the Metropolitan Cebu Water District as he hosted a meeting between MCWD officials and executives of a water firm at his residence early this year.

MCWD Board Member Jodelyn May Seno said she broke her silence not to defend anyone but to tell the truth with the hope of making the people understand the issue.

For one, Seno said she is against the privatization of the MCWD.

“People are talking of privatization..and honestly, I’m not for it..I don’t see the wisdom in it…And I think of most of the board as well are not in favor of it,” said Seno in an interview with The Freeman.

Seno confirmed the press release sent to The Freeman, saying she only came to tell her story as no one asked her about the meeting with the executives of the Villar Group’s Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. at Rama’s residence at the Espina Compound in February this year until after she – along with MCWD Chairman, lawyer Joey Daluz, and Board Member, Engr. Miguelito Pato – had been recommended for removal and termination.

“We were invited for breakfast at the mayor’s residence to listen to certain guests. We had no idea who the visitors were. The invitation was for breakfast but there was no agenda given,” Seno said.

Aside from Rama and a few members of his workforce, also present during the meeting were Prime Water President Fe Rebancos and some MCWD board members and technical personnel. Absent were Daluz and Pato.

Seno narrated that shortly after Rebancos’ presentation, Rama emerged from a corner and said: “Unya nagkasinabot na mo?”

But, according to Seno, Rebancos asked: “Mayor, I need the documents from MCWD, when can we have it.”

However, Seno retorted: “No, we need a letter from them so that we can reply.”

The water district officials were surprised when they received a letter dated Feb. 12, 2023 on the same day (Feb. 16), as if the company executives have it readied even before the meeting.

It was alleged that through Rama’s influence, Prime Water executives were able to present their intention to conduct “due diligence and data gathering” in coming up with a feasibility study for MCWD’s “development program” during a board meeting on Feb. 17, a day after the breakfast meeting at the mayor’s residence.

The board members were non-committal and addressed every point raised by the presenter as “noted.”

On Feb. 22, MCWD – through general manager Edgar Donoso and Daluz – sent a letter to Prime Water in response to its Feb. 12 letter of intent, informing the company that it cannot proceed with the request to conduct a study.

After the MCWD Board clarified its stand against the privatization, Rama called for another meeting last month that ended up with the supposed installation of Pato as new chairman, with the mayor invoking his “emergency power” amid the El Nin~o phenomenon.

Seno, who was also present at the meeting, was surprised by the turn of events, saying they were already ready to present MCWD’s preparations.

Seno confirmed that Daluz was not in the meeting as his name was not on the list of those invited.

When the show cause order was served, Seno said she and Pato were not in Cebu that prompted the MCWD chairman to make the reply on their behalf.

The response was labeled as “joint” reply although City Legal Office chief Jerone Castillo emphasized that only Daluz replied since he is the only one signing it.

Seno said she agreed with all the points raised by Daluz.

Seno, a human resource practitioner, also questioned how the so-called survey among MCWD employees conducted and what tools were used. She even questioned the letters sent to them as there had been no signature of the mayor. Only Rosell and Castillo signed the letters.

Seno said she wondered if Rama knows everything the two City Hall officers are doing.

Seno said she is only speaking now with the hope of making people get a better understanding of the issues, hoping that the issue will be resolved soon in favor of the majority of the Cebuanos and the community they serve.

The Freeman tried to get Rama's side but he could not be reached at the moment. He is reportedly out of town for some important matters. — (FREEMAN)

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