CEBU CITY, Philippines- Rather than being drowned out by the issue on the removal of the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) Chairman and its board of directors, the MCWD Employees Union (MEU) is instead calling all stakeholders to address the water supply problem of Metro Cebu.
“The union, thus urge all the stakeholders to buckle down to work and bring all resources to bear in order to address forwith the public’s right to water, rather than waste so much time and effort in the intramural or in confronting external influences, in the process endangering water security and destroying the integrity of MCWD as an institution,” the MEU said in a statement.
They laid down some solutions, among them the in-house development of additional water resources, rehabilitation of dilapidated lines (pipes), reduction of systems losses, among others.
“We can have additional sources like making pocket wells within the city,” Abigail Almeria, the MEU president told the local media in a presscon at the Cebu Business Hotel in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Almeria said despite an existing MCWD board resolution that prohibits well drilling in the MCWD franchise area, construction of pocket wells in Lahug and Barangay Sambag-1 has been very successful.
Apart from the pocket wells, the MCWD could also develop some other in-house water sourcing projects, a former MEU official revealed.
“We can have it in-house. MCWD people have expertise for that, they can if only the MCWD people would decide and do it,” Victor Chiong, who is now the President Emeritus of the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (AGWWAS) said.
Chiong who also showed a power point presentation of the water supply businesss in the country
bared that a local water supplier even have made business out of sourcing its supply from within the MCWD franchise area and sell whatever they extract from the ground to the MCWD.
Chiong named Abejo Waters Corp. to have wells in Lagtang, Talisay City; Guadalupe in Cebu City; Casili in Consolacion and some other areas, reaching about ten sites as Abejo is among the bulk water suppliers of MCWD.
Chiong said instead of relying to bulk water suppliers, MCWD could pursue in-house water sourcing so as not to be hostage by the bulk water suppliers.
“Kanang Abejo duna siyay napulo ka project within the MCWD franchise area. Gani ang iyang ubang mga bomba tupad ra sab sa mga bomba sa MCWD. So nakig compete siya sa MCWD nga primarily iya nang trabaho to develop water sources. So ug ingon niana ang kahimtang sa MCWD ngadto-ngadto patay ang MCWD kay ngano man hostage siya. Mahug siyag hostage sa mga bulk water supplier (That Abejo have ten projects within the MCWD franchise area. Infact some of its wells is just beside the wells of MCWD. So its competing with MCWD even as its job is primarily to develop water sources. If that will be the situation of MCWD, it will die in the long run because it can be held hostage. It will appear hostaged to bulk water suppliers)” Chiong said.
The MCWD according to Chiong could very well do what Abejo has been doing.
Chiong who has been an employee of MCWD for several years said MCWD have the competent technical people to perform what the people of Abejo has been doing.
“Kayang kaya na sa MCWD kay sa dugay nang panahon nga ila nang gihimo naka provide siya ug tubig ngadto sa katawhan (the MCWD could very well do it because for the longest time it provided water to the people),” Chiong explained.
According to Chiong as provided by Presidential Decree 198 (Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973), the MCWD could have in-house development of water sources and because of the MCWD board resolution that implemented a moratorium on drilling wells in 2012, it can be lifted so that development of in-house water sourcing could begin in Cebu.
Another measure which can be undertaken according to another veteran MCWD technical man is to repair the antiquated MCWD lines including its pipes which have been there for years.
“There are pipes which are there even for so long, panahon pa ni Osmena (dating back to Osmena).That should be replaced,” Felicisimo Salcedo, who has been very active also with MEU during his stint with MCWD said in Cebuano.
The repair and replacement of pipes could prevent systems losses and thus additional water supply will be available to its consumers as water leakage will be prevented.
The activity of MEU and AGWASS came as Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has fired the entire MCWD board led by chairman Joel Mari Yu who has already resigned however.
The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) has
named interim board of directors but MCWD board vice chairman Atty. Ralph Sevilla and two other board members insisted that LWUA could not just simply take over as their termination borders on being illegal.
The matter is yet to be resolve with finality even as several LGU’s has castigated the MCWD for its poor services to its consumers due to the prevailing scarcity of water supply in Metro Cebu area.
Another potential water source for MCWD is a desalination plant in Lapulapu City./AAJ