Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo slammed what he called the efforts of the Dumaguete City Water District to blind the public to developments that will have great repercussions on the city's water concessionaires, by silently engaging in a joint venture agreement that will be prejudicial to the interest of end-users.
The DCWD only said through a hurriedly called press conference that they have reached an agreement with the Metro Pacific Water Investment Corp., or MWIC, to undertake the Dumaguete City Water Supply and Waste Water Management Joint Venture Project,Remollo added.
This after representatives from MWIC shed light on the agreement during a session of the SangguniangPanlungsod Wednesday, the mayor said.
He said DCWD has already surrendered its rights to the private company under an 80-20 agreement, granting the majority company MWIC exclusive right to take possession of, use, and upgrade the existing facilities of DCWD, design, construct, install and commission the new facilities, to distribute the water and to collect payments.
Before the appearance of MWIC personnel, including councilors of Cagayan de Oro City, the water distribution company in the city had snubbed several invitations for them to shed light on issues that are of public interest.
MWIC brought documents to show that an agreement has been reached, such as the certification issued by the board of directors, that DCWD and MWIC have already partnered themselves in undertaking almost P1 billion worth of projects, and this was confirmed by Laurence Rogero, president and authorized representative of MWIC.
Remollo said the unsolicited proposal of MWIC was approved in the record time of two weeks, through Resolution 060-17 dated July 6, 2017, and signed by directors Rodrigo Lagahit Sr., chairman of the board, CleonicoFontelo, vice chairman; Isabel Lucille Esmena, secretary and director, Cyrus Riconalla, auditor; and Catalina Amasula, PRO.
The certification was dated August 24, 2017, and Remollo said he can only surmise that the approval of the project lacked due diligence and analysis.
Under the certification, the proposal will be submitted to a competitive challenge, pursuant to guidelines from the National Economic Development Authority, but Remollo said this is only for formality's sake.
However, DCWD General Manager EsperatuDicen said the company will remain a government-owned and controlled corporation, and vehemently denied that it is going to be privatized.
What is being privatized he said, are the functions, management and operation of the water distribution company. All the employees will be absorbed by the joint venture company, he said.
Remollo said he was very upset upon reading the documents that showed the management of the septage plant facility was included in the negotiation, when the city and DCWD have an existing memorandum of agreement dated way back in June 25, 2009.
A provision in the agreement states that the city shall manage the operation and maintenance of the Septage Treatment Plant and it is responsible for the hiring, detail, and/or transfer of necessary personnel while the second party is responsible for the collection of septage fees from houses, business establishments, and other sources, among others.
Remollo said that although the city and DCWD have an equal share in the expenses and net income in the operation of the septage treatment plant, the former owns the 2.5-hectare lot where the facility is built, and these were not divulged to MWIC. The mayor said they committed wrong to the city.
Meanwhile, DCWD has hired a new lawyer, Myles Bejar, to represent them in any forum.
Bejar said he will deal only on legal matters and is not privy to the things that had happened in the past. Under the NEDA, revised guidelines on joint venture agreements issued in 2013, he said, privatization is not allowed.*JG
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