By NITZ ARANCON
THE lawyer of the three councilors who have sought to void the 2017 agreement between the Cagayan de Oro Water District and Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp. yesterday frowned over a claim that the undersupply of treated water in the city was due to the damages caused by a December 2017 storm on the facilities of Rio Verde Water Consortium.
Lawyer James Judith called the explanation unacceptable and “hinangal,” adding that the failure of the Metro Pacific-controlled Cagayan de Oro Bulkwater Inc. (Cobi) to increase its daily delivery of treated water from 40 million liters to 60 million liters only strengthened the petition of his clients before the Philippine Competition Commission.
On Tuesday, COWD chairman Eduardo Montalvan and COWD general manager Bienvenido Batar Jr. said Cobi asked for more time to increase the supply of treated water by 20 million liters a day as agreed. They said Cobi cited the damages caused by storm “Vinta” on the facilities of Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc., the previous bulk water supplier.
Judith said it was incorrect to attribute the failure of Cobi to deliver 60 million liters to COWD everyday to the damages caused by “Vinta,” and call it force majeure.
Judith said it cannot be considered force majeure because “Vinta” impacted on the region in December 2017 while Cobi started supplying treated water to COWD on Jan. 1, 2018.
“Nangong gamiton man ni Chairman Montalvan nga rason ang ipikto sa bagyong ‘Vinta,’ nga niadtong paghapak sa maong bagyo, Rio Verde pa man ang nag-supply ug tubig sa COWD?” Judith asked rhetorically.
He said the force majure reason only strengthened suspicions that Metro Pacific and Rio Verde were one, and that the new set-up was resorted to in order to increase the treated water price from P10.45 to P16 per cubic meter.
This, he said, should compel the PCC to act in favor of the petition he filed on behalf of councilors Teodulfo Lao Jr., Enrico Salcedo, and Reuben Daba.
“Wala nay competition ang pag-supply ug tubig sa COWD kay nagpakita man nga ang Rio Verde ug Metropac, usa ra,” Judith said.
Councilor Lao maintained that the undersupply was a breach of the 2017 contract between COWD and Metro Pacific.
“Pero dili man kami ang maka pa-breach of contract ana. Ang COWD ra man kay sila ra man ang nakigkontrata sa Metropac,” Judith said.