Butuan water execs face graft rap at Ombudsman
BUTUAN CITY—Officials of the Butuan City Water District (BCWD) now face a graft suit at the Ombudsman for the bulk water supply project they entered into with a company that deals with generation, collection and distribution of electricity.
In their complaint, former Agusan del Norte Rep. Charito Plaza and businessman Potenciano Malvar accused BCWD officials, led by general manager Anselmo Sangtian, of abuse of authority and connivance in awarding the P500-million bulk water supply project to Twin Peak Hydro Resources (TPHR), which was allegedly not qualified to carry out the project.
TPHR, the complainants claimed, was classified as a power generation, collection and distribution company.
Plaza and Malvar said there was clear violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because TPHR was afforded special treatment when it was awarded the project.
They said TPHR, reportedly owned by a relative of Sangtian, was incorporated two months before it submitted the proposal to BCWD and that it had no track record in bulk water projects.
In April 2013, the city government also questioned the 25-year bulk water project agreement the BCWD and TPHR had entered into as it never underwent consultation.
In April this year, several residents sought the intervention of the Supreme Court in a bid to stop the bulk water treatment project.
The petitioners, represented by lawyer Froilan Montero, also claimed BCWD did not conduct consultation before entering into an agreement with TPHR, which is allegedly owned by Santian’s nephew and Tubay town Vice Mayor Jimmy Beray.
BCWD has defended the project called the Taguibo Water Supply Development Project by saying that when it becomes operational, it would provide a reliable and uninterrupted supply of potable water for the city’s nearly 40,000 concessionaires.
However, the firm did not comment on allegations TPHR was given preferential treatment.
“This Public-Private Partneship project is not a stopgap measure or a band-aid solution to the present water issue being faced by the city. It is a sustainable, cost-effective project that would provide clean water to every Butuanon 24/7,” BCWD spokesperson Ramil Barquin has said earlier.
Barquin said BCWD is able to produce only about 70 percent of what it previously supplied its consumers.
“BCWD needs the support of every sector in Butuan and none of the disinformation being floated around so that we can fast-track the completion of this undertaking whose construction would not cost the government a single centavo while ensuring the people of Butuan affordable water rates,” Barquin added. Inquirer Mindanao
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