Acting Cebu water board director denied entry amid power row

Acting Cebu water board director denied entry amid power row

Acting Cebu water board director denied entry amid power row


CEBU CITY — It was his first day as acting general manager of Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) that has been rocked by leadership dispute.

But lawyer John Dx Lapid found himself barred from entering his office in the morning of April 15 as lockdown was imposed in MCWD by its chair, Jose Daluz III and Edgar Donoso, who had been suspended by the Local Water Utilities Administration’s (LWUA).


Lapid, head of the MCWD Customer Care Division, was installed by the MCWD Interim Board of Directors last April 12, as the acting general manager for 90 days after the suspension of Donoso for his “continuing defiance” or ongoing violation of the Interim Board’s directives.


Lapid appealed to Donoso and Daluz to comply with the directives of the Interim Board to avoid conflict.

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However, Donoso allegedly ordered the security guards of MCWD to prevent Lapid from entering the building and the implementation of a lockdown “to ensure unhampered public service and protect the well-being and safety of its employees against any form of intimidation.”

Also not allowed entry were members of the Interim Board.

According to Lapid, he was abiding by a LWUA directive to “hold the line.”

An April 15 resolution signed by Daluz claimed that the appointment of Lapid was illegal and invalid.


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The board stated that there was no legal basis for the LWUA to take over a functioning independent and autonomous water district.

On March 15, LWUA issued a letter to MCWD, saying it was taking over the policy-making authority of the water district.

In a press briefing with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in March, the LWUA officers — Chairman Ronnie Ong and Administrator Jose Moises Salonga — and MCWD officers Daluz and Donoso committed to abide to the legal opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) on the legality of the takeover.

The OGCC issued Opinion No. 046, Series of 2024 on March 26, which stated that while LWUA could take over, or intervene in, the operations and management of a water district, including policy-making, this power is not absolute and subject to the limitations provided under Presidential Decree No. 198.

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“Despite the foregoing, the LWUA illegally installed Interim Board who usurped the powers and functions of the appointed Board of Directors of MCWD. These illegal actions of the LWUA caused confusion and instability among the managers and employees of MCWD,” Daluz’ resolution read.

Daluz said the board ordered that all resolutions, memoranda, directives, and actions issued or undertaken by the LWUA and the illegal Interim Board or any officer installed by them, specifically the appointment of Lapid as OIC general manager, are to be disregarded by MCWD, its officers and employees.

His position was supported by mayors of the cities of Consolacion, Talisay, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue, and the towns of Daanbantayan, Compostela, Consolacion, and Liloan that comprised 70 percent of the communities served.

In a resolution, the mayors said LWUA’s intrusion on the MCWD’s operation undermined the rule of law and jeopardized the water services.

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“We demand that the LWUA heed the law and its own promises. They must immediately halt this unwarranted intrusion into MCWD operations. They must allow MCWD to fulfill its vital function to our communities without fear of unlawful interference. We will not allow the LWUA to jeopardize the well-being of the Cebuanos,” it said.

TAGS: Cebu, Cebu water

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