By CONG B. CORRALES, Associate Editor
RIO Verde Water Consortium Inc.’s Oct. 28 letter to the Cagayan de Oro Water District left little or no room for misinterpretation — the city’s water utility firm was warned of a disruption and stoppage of bulk water supply unless it starts paying up based on an increased rate.
Rio Verde’s official letter, obtained by this paper yesterday, belied Rio Verde senior vice president for operation Joffrey Hapitan’s claim the other day that the firm did not threaten COWD.
On Tuesday, Hapital told local radio, “Wala kami nagsulti nga kung dili sila mohatag sa among demand, among pagngon o i-reduce ang water pressure. Kana siya mga sayop nga interpretation,” Hapitan said.
But the Rio Verde letter, signed by Hapitan himself, showed otherwise. Part of it reads: “…please be advised that COWD’s continued refusal to accept and heed Rio Verde’s fair and reasonable request for a price increase from the present rate at P16.35/m3, will unavoidably result (in) disruption and stoppage of bulk water supply to COWD.”
Hapitan’s letter, addressed to COWD general manager Rachel Beja, cited Rio Verde’s “precarious condition” that prompted it to demand a price increase.
COWD is paying Rio Verde P10.45 per cubic meter but the latter wants to increase the price to P16.35.
In the same letter, Hapitan warned that “COWD will need to be ready to take full responsibility for the ensuing repercussions” if it doesn’t accede to the Rio Verde’s demand.
COWD received Hapitan’s letter at 9:18 am Oct. 30. The same was copyfurnished to Rio Verde president B.S. Santos and Councilor Teodulfo Lao, chair of city council’s committee on public utilities.
Hapitan predicated his demand for a price increase on COWD’s public pronouncement that it is capable of paying P16.35 per cubic meter without passing on the burden to water consumers.
Hapitan also pointed out that COWD’s agreement with the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Water Investment Corp. set the price of treated water at some P16 per cubic meter.
His Oct. 28 letter continued: “It is thus imperative for COWD to issue a purchase order for the 40 MLD [millions of liters per day] or 60 MLD at the new rate of P16.35/m3 effective Nov. 1, 2017, to enable Rio Verde to sustain the operation of its water treatment facility.”
State auditors have frowned over the decade-old bulk water supply contract between Rio Verde and COWD, citing onerous provisions that they directed the water district to have the agreement nullified. COWD did, and filed a case against Rio Verde a few years back.
Engr. Beja said the COWD is expecting a regional court to come up with a decision on the case by Dec. 4.
Earlier, Beja warned that COWD would petition a court for a temporary restraining order if Rio Verde forces the issue.