Court issues TRO vs deal between Bacolod utility, private firm for water projects
BACOLOD CITY—A judge on Tuesday (Oct. 27) issued a 20-day restraining order to stop the city’s water utility and a private firm from carrying out their joint venture agreement which a city official and former House member tagged as disadvantageous to the city government.
The Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa) and PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp. (PrimeWater) were ordered to hold their agreement in abeyance until further notice of the court.
Judge Phoebe Gargantiel Balbin, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 45 in Bacolod, said the temporary restraining order was meant to preserve status quo until a case for preliminary injunction against the agreement is heard by the court.
She set a hearing for the petition for injunction, filed by Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr., and former congressman Pepito Pico, of the party-list group Diwa, on Nov. 9.
The petitioners asked the court to nullify the agreement between Baciwa and PrimeWater.
Lorendo Dilag, Baciwa board chair, said last July during the signing of the agreement that the utility’s partnership with the Villar-owned PrimeWater will bring in P6.3 billion in total investments in the next 25 years. The agreement was supposed to take effect starting on Nov. 1.
The deal, according to Dilag, was “practical, necessary and beneficial” for Bacolod City because Baciwa “has no financial capacity on its own to fund an expansion project that will answer the need for more water.”
Gamboa, however, claimed that the people of Bacolod were angry and enraged at the “highly disadvantageous contract” between Baciwa and PrimeWater.
Leny Espina, Baciwa employees union president, said water utility officials did not betray just employees but also the people of Bacolod City.
“The Baciwa board and senior officials may deny it with all their might but they have effectively surrendered the management and operation of the water utility firm to a private corporation,” Espina said.
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.