Cebu City

Lawyers file usurpation complaint vs Cebu water district chairman, 2 others

Wenilyn Sabalo

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Lawyers file usurpation complaint vs Cebu water district chairman, 2 others

WATER DISTRICT. The management dispute within the Metropolitan Cebu Water District has yet to come to a standstill as lawyers filed criminal complaints against members of the board.

Rappler

The criminal complaint highlights the ongoing tensions surrounding the management dispute within the water district

CEBU, Philippines – Two lawyers filed a criminal complaint for usurpation of official functions against Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) Chairman Jose Daluz III and two MCWD board members on Wednesday, January 31.

In their complaint filed with the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office, lawyers Danilo Ortiz and Earl Bonachita accused Daluz, Miguelito Pato, and Jodelyn Seno of unlawfully assuming official roles, asserting that they have been replaced by Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama.

Rama appointed Melquiades Feliciano as chairman, and Nelson Yuvallos and Aristotle Batuhan as replacements for Daluz and the two other board members, taking their oath and assuming office on October 31, 2023.

Ortiz and Bonachita were previously part of the board led by Daluz but have not been attending meetings since last year. According to the lawyers, they have joined the “new” board, recognizing the authority of the mayor to appoint board members.

Daluz, responding to a text message from Rappler on Friday morning, February 2, said the filing of the criminal complaint was a “malicious prosecution just to harass us and (a) desperate move without clear legal basis.” 

Daluz and MCWD board members have repeatedly defied the mayor’s orders to vacate their positions as they cited a letter from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) that states that local officials have no authority to remove the chairperson and members of the water district board.

In a statement, Bonachita and Ortiz said their complaint stemmed from the “continued and willful” refusal of Daluz, Pato, and Seno to step down despite Rama’s order on August 1, 2023. 

They said in a statement on Thursday, February 1, that the defiance of Daluz, Pato, and Seno “has already prejudiced the management of MCWD and consequently has been detrimental to the essential water services it provides to the public.”

Daluz said they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint but would respond once they are summoned to answer the allegations. Daluz continues to function as MCWD chairman as of posting time.

In 2023, Daluz hinted that the situation might be due to his opposition to Mayor Rama’s supposed efforts to privatize the MCWD or his (Daluz) specific recommendations for political succession in their party coalition, which involved supporting younger members for elevated roles.

Rama denied these and asserted that it was because of his dissatisfaction over the MCWD board‘s lack of preparation for the impact of the El Nińo phenomenon in Cebu. 

Daluz and Rama were political allies during the May 2022 elections, but have since split after the mayor ordered the chairman removed from the MCWD. – Rappler.com

Wenilyn Sabalo is a community journalist currently affiliated with SunStar Cebu and is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024.

1 comment

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  1. AM

    There should be more depth in this coverage e. g. the laws and guidelines on who has the authority to appoint and occupy the office of the MCWD. I’m concerned about the lack of investigative initiative.

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