DC water district snubs City Council hearing on loan

Rodora Gamboa, DCWD general manager, vowed instead to sponsor a joint executive and legislative forum either in the first or second week of November.

But in his privilege speech at the City Council's regular session held Thursday, Villafuerte did not hide his disappointment over the pass-off.

"I rise on this privilege to express my disappointment over such arrogant absence of DCWD Board and Management," he said.

He lamented that DCWD officials are public servants who must submit to the interest of the people, adding management should bend to the public welfare and interest.

The councilor stressed that DCWD has the burden to explain to the public in "clear and unequivocal" terms the charges against the loan.

He said the scheduled forum should be open to the public especially the various concerned groups who kept tab of the proposed loan.

He said DCWD owes the people more explanation than the members of the executive and legislative branches of the local government.

Gamboa sent a letter to the committee on October 15, two days before the scheduled hearing.

Her letter said the concern has caught the attention of other key local officials and that it is holding the forum as a venue to "comprehensively present the plans and programs of the DCWD for the three legislative districts of the city".

She said they also sought to clarify the issues raised by the progressive Consumer Alert group. The group charged that the water district does not need to loan at least P100 million because it has savings and unexpended budget.

The group also accused DCWD of hiding a scheme of increasing water rates and using the loan as bait to a privatization plan. DCWD officials denied the allegations in the September 28 initial hearing where they failed to present financial reports to prove detractors wrong.

Gamboa told MindaNews earlier their latest detailed work plan revealed they needed to loan at least P126 million to fund the proposed Comprehensive Mainline Replacement Program, a project to replace old and damaged pipes.

The Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Davao City Water District (NAMADACWAD) hit DCWD management for alleged erroneous and misleading statements against the union over the claim by Gamboa the loan will not result in higher water rates.

But Rudy Aranjuez said that instead of evading the issue, management should instead show proof the water district really does not have funds for the project.

"The interest of the payments alone will turn the district into a debt-ridden water utility. This is the reason why we are saying the loan will lead to privatization," he said.

Gamboa was quoted in earlier media reports that the union has only allegedly "concocted the report of alleged water rate increases as the union was demanding the release of the Collective Negotiation Agreement incentive. (Walter I. Balane/ MindaNews)