Water district manager gets backing from group

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

THE Association of Negros Occidental Water Districts (ANOWD) composed of general managers condemned the acts of three directors of the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) that led to the 30-day preventive suspension of general manager Juliana Carbon “without due process.”

Baciwa board chairman Lawrence Villanueva and directors Lorendo Dilag and Marichi Ramos voted for the resolution to suspend Carbon for alleged several offenses, including her alleged willful misrepresentation of the Murcia Water District bulk water supply contract with Baciwa, the appointment of officers-in-charge, and giving representation and transportation allowance (Rata) without a Board approval, among others.

Carbon, however, refused to step down, saying the decision was unlawful because only three directors voted for her suspension. The required number of directors to approve resolutions is four.


[READ: Carbon, employees holed up in Baciwa]

The ANOWD said the three directors even conducted board meetings and issued resolutions in violation of law.

Baciwa GM and colleagues
BACOLOD. Embattled Bacolod City Water District Juliana Carbon (standing center) with her colleagues in the Association of Negros Occidental Water Districts. (Carla N. Cañet)

With this, the group, in a resolution unanimously passed on Tuesday and signed by ANOWD acting vice president Norberto Baculna, called for the intervention of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), Visayas Association of Water Districts (VAWD), and Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD).

The group said that LWUA had appointed lawyer Yolanda Zaragoza as the sixth member of the Baciwa board last year and until July 2014, and that after her term expired, Engr. Alfredo Bayanin was appointed as her replacement.

However, the ANOWD members said they were informed that on July 31, the Baciwa board conducted a regular meeting, but Villanueva, Dilag and Ramos did not recognize the presence of the sixth member, and did not allow him to participate or to cast his vote.

Also, with only three directors voting for the preventive suspension of Carbon, the resolution was passed.

Based on the Baciwa Board Resolution 148, Ramos was the complainant. She also moved and voted for the suspension of Carbon, a clear sign of injustice, oppression and blatant disregard of laws, the group said.

The group pointed out that Carbon was placed under preventive suspension immediately in the absence of a formal complaint filed in accordance with the Civil Service Commission rules, and without due process.

ANOWD said the three directors conducted the board meeting on August 2 and 4 without quorum, and passed resolutions without the required number of votes needed to pass them, in violation of Presidential Decree 198, Chapter III, Sections 8 and 16.

"The acts of the three directors set a bad precedence and must never be emulated. They must be condemned as these acts constitute grave abuse of authority, oppression and gross violation of laws and rules," it stressed.

The group urged the LWUA, VAWD and PAWD to look into the acts of the three directors and their effects, as “it is abnormal, unlawful and detrimental to the water district."

Among the general managers who signed the ANOWD resolution were Manolito Mendoza of Talisay City Water District; Jesus Pedro Zalderiaga, Cadiz City Water District; Jesus Antonio Locsin, Silay City Water District; Ronulfo Yap, La Castellana Water District; Ricardo Regalia Jr., Kabankalan City Water District; Manfred Fuentesfina, Sagay City Water District; Lilian Arias, Escalante City Water District; Paulino Cruz, Victorias City Water District; Winston Makilan, Murcia Water District; Suzette Saragoza, Binalbagan Water District; Joel Gellecanao, Himamaylan City Water District; and Leo Espada, secretary of ANOWD.

Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella said in a letter addressed to LWUA Administrator Andres Ibarra that the acts of the three directors merit their replacement.

"These directors have openly defied your order and showed utmost arrogance by not recognizing your appointee to the Board of Baciwa," Puentevella said.

"I have in the meantime asked the police to maintain peace and order at the water district and prevent the three directors from entering the premises of the water district. This is to avoid confrontation between them and the angry members of the Baciwa employees union who are supporting Attorney Carbon," Puentevella told Ibarra.

In a related development, the officers of the Metro Bacolod Consumers Forum and former presidents of the Bacolod City Water District Employees Union (BEU-NAFLU) wrote former Baciwa director and now Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya and Councilor Alex Paglumotan regarding the issues that led to the suspension of Carbon.

The group is composed of retired Prosecutor Cesar Beloria Sr., president of the Metro Bacolod Consumers Forum; Ramon Lopez, secretary and past president of BEU-NAFLU; Nemesio Demafelis, director; Edevia Gamboa, director; Rodolfo Maligmat Jr., vice president, founder and past president of BEU-NAFLU; Ben Balo Jr., treasurer; and Tony Wong, director.

Lopez said they strongly feel that the issues against Carbon should be investigated by the City Council considering that what is at stake is the interest of the Baciwa consumers and the public.

"We expect fair, impartial and transparent proceedings on these issues not only to ferret out the truth but also in aid of future legislation to protect the welfare and interests of your constituents," the group said.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 06, 2014.

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