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GSD File photo by Nitz Arancon

COWD officials hounded by 2004 deal with Rio Verde: Where are they now?

By NITZ ARANCON
Correspondent .

THEY have all left the Cagayan de Oro Water District but the controversial 2004 contract between the utility and Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. has contnued to hound them.

Last week, the Office of the Ombudsman announced its decision to indict the former COWD officials in connection with the now terminated contract that was described by state auditors as a “mockery of the bidding process.”

So, where are the accused in the impending graft case before the Sandiganbayan.

Dentist Raymundo Java, who served as chairman of the COWD board over a decade ago, is based abroad. He reportedly stopped practicing dentistry because of an eye problem.

Engr. Gaspar Gonzales, former COWD general manager, has been farming in Bukidnon, and took it upon himself to drive his grandchildren to school and back to their home. He has also been active with a civic organization. He lives in Opol town in Misamis Oriental.

Sarah Borja, who served as a COWD director, is reportedly abroad now but she is still Cagayan de Oro-based. Like Java and Gonzales, she is enjoying the life of a retiree.

Another former COWD director, lawyer Bibiana Sarmiento, has also retired. The former prosecutor has a house in uptown Cagayan de Oro.

Former COWD directors Francisco Mendez and Sandy Bass Sr. are still into broadcasting. Mendez is managing a radio station while the Bible-quoting Bass is hosting a partisan “blocktime” radio program with former mayor Vicente Emano.

The last one to leave the COWD board was its former chairman Joel Baldelovar. Baldelovar resigned as a COWD director on Dec. 31, 2017 to join a new company called Hydrovast Philippines Corp.. In November last year, Baldelovar said the firm planned to invest on a bulk water supply system for Cagayan de Oro’s neighboring areas.

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