LGU execs told: Don’t interfere with local water district operations
MANILA, Philippines — Local officials should not interfere with local water district operations, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.
Año made the remark in light of reports that some local government officials were intervening in the operations of local water districts.
“It has come to our attention that some local government officials continue to exercise control over local water districts, ignoring the mandates of law and public policy,” Año said in a statement.
“Local officials should not poke their noses into the operation of local water districts because said districts are autonomous by themselves,” he added.
Under the Presidential Decree No. 198 or the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973, one or more cities and municipalities may form local water districts to meet the water needs of local communities.
The law states that local water districts are not under the jurisdiction of any political subdivision and will be supervised by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).
“Local officials should respect the autonomy of local water districts while giving their support and assistance to operations,” he said.
Año pointed out that the only influence mayors and governors have over water districts is the appointment of directors and the approval of a resolution to form water districts.
The Interior secretary said that cases may be filed at the Ombudsman to investigate the complaints against mayors and governors who exercise power over local water districts.
Local officials found to be abusing their authority may face sanctions including a 60-day suspension or removal from office.
However, Año clarified that local water districts are allowed to partner with private firms to provide water for local residents.
“Given their independence from any political supervision, water districts may enter into public-private partnerships or joint venture agreements with water utility companies,” he said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government chief said the law allows local water districts to sign contracts with private companies for the construction, operation, and maintenance of water systems in local government units. /je
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