Mayor’s takeover blamed for D’bantayan water row
A water cooperative has sought the intervention of President Noynoy Aquino so they can resume operation in Daanbantayan town, northern Cebu.
Claro Benatiro, chairman of the Tapilon Rural Waterworks and Sanitation Association Inc. (Tarwasa), said he e-mailed the President last July 4 and that Aquino promised that the group’s concerns will be referred to proper agencies.
The waterworks association has operated for 19 years and serves 1,000 residents in Daanbantayan.
Tarwasa filed a case of “misconduct, grave abuse of authority and oppressive conduct” against Daanbantayan Mayor Maria Luisa Loot after the mayor shut down the waterworks’ office last Dec. 2009 for failure to secure a permit to operate and certificate of franchise.
But Benatiro said in a press conference yesterday that Tarwasa was not required to secure a permit based on Executive Order 869, which states that “all waterworks are exempted from obtaining permit from the LGU.”
The local government took over the waterworks after its office was closed.
Benatiro criticized Loot for defying a court order issued by Judge Olegalio Sarmiento who issued a status quo order allowing Tarwasa members to handle the operation, open their office and replace all their repair materials.
The order instructed the mayor to unlock the main building of Tarwasa or the group members can forcibly open the building with the presence of the sheriff.
Benatiro said the group was dismayed when the sheriff did not show up on the day they were supposed to open their office because he was called up by the mayor.
Benatiro showed photos of their employees being “harassed” by tanods, police volunteers and policemen while they were repairing pipe leaks and reading water meters.
Benatiro said the resolution of the case was affected by the resignation of Judge Sarmiento.
Benatiro said he will also ask the help of Archbishop Jose Palma and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to resolve the issue.
Senior Supt. Patrocincio Comendador, chief of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said the police are ready for any eventualities that may arise in the town as a result of the dispute./USJ-R INTERN GIOVANNI F. GARCIA WITH A REPORT FROM CORRESPONDENT CARMEL LOISE MATUS
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