Cebu News

After Cebu City Hall ‘invasion’: MCWD now open again

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman
After Cebu City Hall �invasion�: MCWD now open again
Water consumers wait outside the Metropolitan Cebu Water District to transact following the announcement of management that its frontline services will not be available due to a supposed “security breach” yesterday.
Joy Torrejos

CEBU, Philippines — It’s back to business at the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) main office yesterday, with the management assuring that no disconnection will take place for those who were not able to pay their dues to the lockdown imposed last Tuesday.

MCWD announced the other day that due to security breach in its main office and for everyone’s safety, their frontline services were unavailable.

It also said that the “invasion” made by the Cebu City government and then acting general manager John Dx Lapid “instilled confusion and fear among its employees.” (Lapid has since resigned from being MCWD acting general manager, announcing it in a Facebook post Tuesday morning.)

That day, Monday, MCWD told consumers to make use of collection centers instead, while assuring that disconnections of accounts were suspended until further notice.

“Nabalik na gyud intawon mi sa normal…Gahapon (Tuesday), after sa among meeting sa governor’s office niari man mi. Pagbalik namo past three o’clock, okay na, nakasulod na. pero nakaorder naman gud mi sa among mga empleyado nga not to report sa main office. Almost 5 (p.m.) na man sad to so wala na lang mi nangabri sa frontline…. Ganinang buntag, back to normal na gyud ta,” said MCWD Spokesperson Minerva Gerodias to the media yesterday.

General Manager Edgar Donoso, whom the MCWD Interim Board of Directors suspended last Friday, replacing him with Atty. John Dx Lapid who resigned the other day, also issued a memorandum that its back to normal operations and employees were told to report back to the main office already.

“Sa mga nabalaka maputlan…katong gahapon, disconnection accounts, suspended until further notice. Karon, normal na man ta...pwede na sila makabayad,” Gerodias said.

“Ma-extend ra to namo ang ilang mga disconnection schedule…. Within the week, dili sila maputlan, that I can assure,” she added.

Gerodias narrated to the reporters the events that happened last Monday until the alleged intrusion by City Hall employees of the General Manager’s (GM’s) Office at around 10 p.m.

“Nireport among security officers nga daghan kaayong nisud, nisaka sila diha sad sa fifth floor… So, gikuyogan og usa ka guard…. Wa man silay yawi. Kanang GM’s office, ang yawi ana, naa ra na ni GM ug iyang secretary, walay yawi ang guards ana. Ngayo silag yawi, wala may yawi, so ilang gi-open og atm card or credit card,” she said.

“Di ba, doorknob ra man na, ilang gi-slide ba, so na-open gyud nila didto. And then nangabli sila og mga cabinets and vaults. Kay makita man ni GM, kahibawo man siya sa nawong sa iyang office nga lahi na siyag nawong. And naay document sa cabinet nga mura’g naabri na ang envelop, na-misplace na ba, dili na sya sakto pagka arrange. Something like that,” she added.

Gerodias, though, admitted that they were not able to see what was going on at the GM’s office as there is no camera inside it.

She said security officers also reported that access to the MCWD building had been was cut off as the building was cordoned off also that night.

This led to the decision to suspend operations of MCWD last Tuesday.

Gerodias said the incident was still due to be recorded with the police and that they may ask for police investigation while the top management and the legal department are yet to meet to discuss legal actions MCWD would take.

Meanwhile, Cebu City executive officials yesterday expressed their disappointment over Lapid’s resignation after exhausting efforts last Monday to assist in installing him as acting general manager last Monday, his first day in his new position following his appointment last Friday, April 12.

In a press conference yesterday, Cebu City Administrator Attorney Collin Rosell said they intervened because a they received a letter from the Local Utilities Administration (LWUA) and Lapid seeking the City Government’s assistance so Lapid can act as acting general manager.

“Ang LWUA nagpadala sa tanang mga resolution diin pagatabangan ang LWUA nga maimplementar. Unya kahibaw gyud ta nga naa tay water crisis,” Rosell said.

“Kung di ni nato askyonan, unsa may mahitabo? Blame-mon na sad ang inyong gobiyerno?” he added.

That was why, Rosell said, the city extended assistance to Lapid and the LWUA so that they could enter the MCWD premises after Lapid was barred entry through the implementation of a resolution by the MCWD Board led by its chairman Atty. Jose “Joey” Daluz, III.

The LWUA had suspended the board when it made a partial takeover of MCWD last March 15, replacing it with an interim board. But Daluz and the others continued to function, not recognizing the interim board. The MCWD management and its employees had also signified their support of Daluz and not the interim board, which suspended Donoso and installed Lapid last Friday.

In yesterday’s press conference, Rosell and the other city officials also debunked allegations that they forcibly opened the vaults of the GM's office.

Rosell said there was never a time that they entered the MCWD building without the sought assistance of LWUA.

“Dili pagpangawat, dili pagpanglungkab kundili pagtuman sa usa ka klarong legal nga mando,” he said.

Rosell said that Monday night, after Lapid was barred entry in that morning, Lapid and interim board member Rey Tambis were with them when they went back to the MCWD building.

“Ang nag-open ngadto? Ang security guard mismo. Giyawihan sa security guard ang mao nga fifth floor. Gi-open. Pag-open, ‘oh, sige na, installed na ka ngari, sir. Ikaw nay bahala unsa pay imong gikinahanglan,” Rosell narrated what was said to Lapid.

Rosell said they then went down without bringing any alleged documents from the vaults. He said they even waited for at least an hour outside the MCWD building.

Last Tuesday, Lapid announces his resignation from his appointment as acting general manager, saying the stress he experienced was no longer worth it.

In the same press conference, Atty. Jerone Castillo, City budget officer, said he was disappointed with Lapid’s decision to resign.

“Sobra pas lain. Ikaw ba nihangyo ka, we’re placing ourselves at risk there,” he said.

Castillo said requested them to make sure that Daluz and the others would not be able to enter the MCWD building.

“And then ang nahitabo muingon dayon ka, ‘resign ko.’ So, what message that it sends not only to LWUA but to the people you asked helped from?” he said.

Rosell, though, said they respected Lapid’s decision, as the efforts they made and the help they extended was successful, as Lapid was able to enter the MCWD building Monday afternoon.

“Kung asa sya malipay, malipay lang pud ko, pero naguol ko para sa katawhan,” Rosell said. — Rowena Capistrano/RHM (FREEMAN)

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