By Ali G. Macabalang
KIDAPAWAN CITY – The Local Water Utilities Administration intends to take over the management and operation of the Metro Kidapawan Water District (MKWD) due to alleged financial woes, which authorities like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been probing on.
“We are now researching on the possibility of a takeover by LWUA of the mgt and operation of MKWD to ensure the implementation of the P514M loan to rehabilitate the system,” an official of the agency told the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) via private messages.
Pressed to give reasons behind the takeover plan, the official who asked not to be named, provided the BPC official documents indicating in detail unexplained loans and perceived management malpractices by the MKWD.
The LWUA-provided documents included two letters from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) of North Cotabato signed by Veterinary Doctor Ramon N. Floresta as president and physician Dan C. Sambrano as vice president and chairman of the board.
The provincial PCCI chapter communicated first on January 19, 2021 with NBI Director of Region 12 Olivo A. Ramos, asking the official to “urgently investigate the gross mismanagement, gross neglect of duty, gross incompetence or graft and corrupt practices occurring in the Metro Kidapawan Water District.”
It informed President Rodrigo Duterte about the MKWD woes in a separate letter dated March 1, 2021. It followed up with another letter dated March 11 of the same year, demanding the relief of the MKWD general manager, all board of directors and department heads pending the conduct of the NBI probe.
The MWKD is currently administered by General Manager Stella M. Gonzales and a BOD composed of Dr. Alfredo S. Villarico, chair; Emmanuel Zamoras, vice chair; Alan Pandio, secretary; and Lynnie Cagape and Virginia Dayaday as members.
The PCCI chapter’s March 11 letter proposed the appointment of new MKWD officials preferably from outside, and asked the President to let the Commission on Audit (COA) inventory the MKWD facilities and equipment on which several loans in hundreds of millions in pesos were reported as spent.
“Under the circumstances, we have strong reasons to believe that an in-depth investigation into the technical, legal and financial aspects of the MKWD’s undertakings uncover more of the excesses, abuses, and corruption that are causing the miserable state of water services (in Kidapawan City and adjacent communities),” the two PCCI chapter complainant-officials said in their January 1 letter.
They said the MWKD obtained a series of loans from the LWUA – P227-million in 2010; P15.3M in 2018; P21.1M in 2018; P93.4M in 2018; and P25M in 2019.
The MKWD also obtained under a joint “cost recovery program” with the Kidapawan City government P13.8-million fund in 2019, they averred.
In 2019, they said, the MKWD again sought another loan and was approved by the LWUA for P561M. The firm also proposed in another joint “cost recovery program” with the Kidapawan City LGU another P117-million, they added.
The BPC conducted verifications about the reported woes, learning from concerned water consumers a litany of sad feedback, including an allegation that MWKD ruling officials had been making travel junkets locally and abroad with the company of their family members.
Surprisingly, despite the numerous loans granted for MKWD to improve water services, consumers complained that their recent bills indicated a sharp increase but the flow of water in their residential homes decreased tremendously.
Sources said the Office of the President has endorsed to the LWUA the complaint for prompt remedial action.
The BPC key source from the local water utilities administration said LWUA Administrator Gene Mamondiong was on the verge of implementing remedial actions to include a takeover of the MKWD management and operation, and the relief of liable officials therein.
The BPC tried but failed to get words from the MKWD incumbent ruling officials about the complaint.
Earlier, vocal Facebook users have pitched in viral posts lamenting the ironical state of water supply in Kidapawan City, saying the urban center has been harped about for being the southern Philippines “city of high springs.” (AGM)