Cebu News

Baena goes to barangays instead of holding office

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The newly-appointed Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) officer-in-charge general manager has started to go around barangays to check on the situation in the ground even after the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA)-suspended board has issued a statement that they will not acknowledge the new official.

Lawyer Joselito Thomas Baena, who has earlier disclosed that he has chosen not to report to the MCWD office following a statement of the board led by Joey Daluz III and GM Edgar Donoso that they will not recognize the LWUA-appointed official, said he opted to go to the consumers themselves.

“Right now, ang MCWD dili pasudlon ang LWUA-appointed interim board. How can we coordinate with the national government for assistance if dili cooperative ang MCWD?” Baena lamented.

“So modiretso ta sa mga tawo to check unsa’y problema, unsa’y issues nila, mga concerns, unsa man ang situation sa ground,” Baena said.

Baena disclosed that MCWD’s interim BOD appointed by LWUA, the LWUA itself, and the national government wants to ensure that the public’s welfare remains a priority despite MCWD’s ongoing leadership crisis.

“Remember the priority of LWUA (and the) national government is to ensure, despite the defiance (of MCWD) that there is no commotion, that uninterrupted ang delivery of services to the people,” Baena said.

As of press time, Baena has already visited almost a dozen barangays in the city, including Sambag 1 and 2, Santa Cruz, Tinago, San Antonio, Luz, Camputhaw, San Nicolas proper, Suba, Duljo Fatima, and Pasil.

Based on his visits, Baena said some have experienced no water supply at home for over a month now and the situation on the ground seems like the time when supertyphoon Odette hit Cebu.

“Naay ubang barangay nga nangayo og assistance sa MCWD o pangutana, dayun tubagon sila nga magpadala og letter request ni Joey (Daluz),” Baena said.

“So dili sila kasabot. Kay ngano man? Lisud na gud ang tubig, nag crisis na gud dayun lisud-lisuron paka,” he added.

Aside from that, residents have reportedly been wondering why their water bills are increasing when they do not have water supply at home.

“Walay agas, dako bills. They deserve an explanation,” Baena said.

Baena said he had requested the Cebu City government to assist him in going to the barangays.

He is also thankful to barangay captains that have helped in pacifying the residents.

“Aburido ang ulo sa mga tawo karun. Magpasalamat ta sa mga kapitan nga maoy nipakalma nila,” said Baena.

Further, Baena added he has not met with Daluz, but he has tried to connect with him.

“Pareha man ta mga Bisaya, mga Cebuano. Pareha man ta mga abogado and we are reasonable, I want to believe and that we can talk,” Baena said.

Aside from the water crisis, there are also other issues that he needs to deal with as he assumes as OIC GM .

“There is a lot of balancing act to do. How to accomplish the objectives of LWUA that is to look into the anomalies, to enforce the directive sa suspension ni Joey and Mr. (Edgar) Donoso but at the same time, to ensure nga wala’y disruptions,” Baena added.

He also said that while his credentials may be questioned, MCWD’s retired employees and officials are also there to help him out in terms of the technical aspects of LWUA’s probe.

“What we need now is moral leadership to provide the organization with the credibility and has the heart for the consumers who are suffering from the crisis,” he added.

Baena, 37, was born in Surigao Province but has spent most of his life in Cebu. His father is from Toledo City and his mom is from Surigao.

Baena earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and his law degree at the University of San Carlos.

After passing the Bar, Baena worked at the prestigious Angara Abello Concepcion Regala Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA Law) for eight years.

Baena is a partner of Cebu-based RBTA Law Office of lawyer Mikel Francisco Rama, son of Mayor Mike Rama, but stressed that his appointment with MCWD has nothing to do with being close to the Rama’s.

“Dili tinuod (because of closeness to the Rama). Appointee ko sa LWUA. Just a coincidence that the mayor knows me and partner of his son. Not necessarily duol kos mayor. Daghan laing giconsider, it’s a very technical position, unfortunately, grabe ang pressure,” Baena said.

Baena disclosed that Mikel was worried when he got appointed by LWUA, but accepted the challenge anyway because “something has to be done, someone has to do it. Kon dili kita until hadlok na ang tanan, kinsa man? Nya maunsa naman lang ta?,” Baena said.

Mayor Rama, for his part, is ready to support Baena and if the LWUA seeks the city government’s assistance.

“Yes, of course. We are not only ready to assist, we are ready to make the city’s right respected,” said Mayor Rama.

Prior to Baena’s appointment, the interim board also appointed another lawyer, John DX Lapid, but resigned after four days.

Mayor Rama said, he will support Baena as long as his assumption as MCWD acting general manager is aimed to protect the general welfare of the Cebuanos. — /ATO (FREEMAN)

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