Cotabato town mayor planning to sell bulk water to water district

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 1 July) – The municipal mayor of Magpet, a hinterland town in North Cotabato, has sought approval from the town council to grant him authority to enter into a P150-million loan agreement with a government-owned financial institution to build facilities and infrastructure for the town’s water system.

Magpet, North Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

This, however, did not sit well with the town’s vice mayor, who is the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan.

Mayor Florenito Gonzaga’s plan is designed to sell the town’s bulk water from their sources to the Metro Kidapawan Water District.

Friday last week, Gonzaga called for a meeting with MKWD officials where they discussed the possibility of having a joint venture agreement between the LGU and the agency.

Under the system, the MKWD will buy bulk water from Magpet LGU as additional sources to prepare for the growing population of the agency’s service areas.

The MKWD supplies potable or safe water to the towns of Makilala, Matalam, and Magpet, and Kidapawan City, all in North Cotabato’s second legislative district.

MKWD general manager Stella Gonzales said that as early as April, they have organized a technical working group to study the Magpet LGU proposal.

It was learned that one of the sources in Magpet that need to be developed is located in Barangay Magkaalam.

This, however, did not sit well with the town’s vice mayor, who is the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan.

In an interview, Vice Mayor Rogelio Maranon said that the plan is not that “urgent” and that it will not benefit majority of the people.

“We will sell bulk of water to MKWD? What about the other barangays here who do not have any access to safe and potable water? These barangays should first be provided with water rather than sell the bulk of water sources to … MKWD,” said Maranon.

What is more urgent, he said, is the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We must build quarantine centers with facilities. We have to prepare for the worst. We believe the pandemic will stay for a year or two,” Maranon stressed.

On Monday, the council’s deliberation of the issue became heated and controversial when the issue on bribery came out.

Maranon said it was Councilor Manuel Aboy that brought the issue to the floor where he admitted he was offered bribe so he would agree to grant the mayor the authority to enter into a loan agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines. He said he refused the offer.

Aboy said the bribe for a councilor is P250,000 and P400,000 for the vice mayor.

The office of the municipal mayor has yet to issue a statement as regards the accusation.

When media proceeded to Gonzaga’s office at the town hall for clarification, his staff said the mayor was not available for the interview. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)