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Rude awakening

Bencyrus Ellorin

I SUSPECTED that the probers of the Cagayan de Oro water mess may be barking up the wrong tree. Again, I would say that they may have inadvertently fell on the trap and bought the script being peddled by people who want the Moreno administration to look bad.

What is apparent now is that because of the onerous Rio Verde bulk water contract, which include an exclusivity clause, and the decision of the owner of the company, Pepito Alvarez, to give up the firm after its contract with the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) expires next month, Cagayanons may have to bite the bullet as early as Jan. 1, 2017.

It is not that the people have not been warned. One person shouted fire, and he ended up in jail under mysterious circumstances. His name is Emmanuel Mulawan Sr.. There were other warnings that things could go this wrong, waterwise.

Long before the issue reached its apex with the faucets of homes in the western part of the city going dry, Rio Verde and the Manny Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific had been in talks. What was apparent then was that the Alvarez-firm was no longer interested on the bulk water business. And Metropac, owner of Maynilad, expressed willingness to invest.

So eventually, with the exit of Rio Verde, Metro Pacific will come in. There is no observable earth movement from Metro Pacific two months before Rio Verde exits. Understandable, because they will just take over the facilities of Rio Verde for a sum of money, of course.

Now, maybe some enterprising people at Rio Verde wanted to “juice” more the people, they thought of blackmailing the COWD with no supply unless the current rate is increased to P16 per cubic meter.

Now, whether the people will be saddled with water rate hikes in 2018 remains to be seen. The review of the COWD-Metropac deal should be pursued.

Meanwhile, COWD should (1) start improving its own water-generation capacity, and (2) look for other bulk water suppliers.

The message should be clear: Time is up for water supply monopoly in Cagayan de Oro.

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