By LITO RULONA
A GROUP in Baungon town in Bukidnon has pressed graft charges against municipal officials and the owner of Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc., blaming them for an aggravated water crisis gripping the town.
Accused before the Office of the Ombudsman were Baungon Mayor Pedro Alvarez and his father Jose Alvarez who is Rio Verde chairman, and all municipal officials of Baungon, Bukidnon.
The seven-page affidavit-complaint was filed by Baungon residents Nimuel Elarmo, Godofredo Sanoy, Marion Labitad, Felomina Labitad and Felipe Ragudo.
They accused the Alvarezes and Baungon officials for acts or omissions constituting graft and corrupt practices , under Section 3 (e), (g), (h) and (j) of RA 3019 and 7(a) of RA 6713, otherwise known as Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The complainants accused the respondents of “neglect and willful disregard,” and for being “heartless” by disregarding the needs of townsfolk for potable water.
They said they have been having difficulties with the supply of potable water in the town since 2010, the year Mayor Alvarez won his first election as local chief executive.
They said all barangays in Baungon do not have water facilities, and are forced to do the crude ways of getting drinkable water like going to faraway places just to fetch spring water or water from wells and creeks, among others.
Some, they said, were even forced to collect unsafe water from the irrigation canals of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).
In 2013, huge water tubes were put in place in Baungon, and they had thought their water supply would improve. They said there was no proper public hearing and there was allegedly no permit for for the diggings along provincial, municipal and barangay roads.
They said they later realized that the water tubes were intended for Rio Verde that operates a water-processing and -filtration plant in Barangay Pualas, Baungon. The firm, which supplies potable water to the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD), is using water from the Bubonawan River in Baungon Bukidnon.