By LITO RULONA
TWO city council committees have stepped up calls to turn the Cagayan de Oro Water District into a consortium of cooperatives.
In a joint meeting on Friday, the chairpersons of the city council’s committees on cooperative and social responsibility said the cooperatives that banded together during the Jaraula administration in an effort to take over the COWD should revive their movement.
Councilor Enrico Salcedo, chairman of the committee on cooperatives, said the COWD would be better off in the hands of a group like the Cooperative Development Council of Cagayan de Oro that counts160 member-cooperatives with about half a million members.
“The plan is long overdue,” said Salcedo.
He pointed out that the city has the 10 top cooperatives in the country with combined assets amounting to billions of pesos.
Salcedo mentioned cooperatives like the First Community Cooperative, Oro Integrated Cooperative, Capitol Savings and Loans Cooperative, Del Monte Philippines Inc. Employee Consumers Cooperative, Mass Specc Cooperative Development Center, and the City Hall Employees’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative.
“They can manage and operate COWD, and by doing that, we will be empowering the consuming public,” Salcedo said.
COWD is currently run as a government-owned and controlled corporation. Based on its charter, city hall has a say only in the appointment of members of its board.
Councilor Reuben Daba, chairman of the city council’s social responsibility committee, said councilors have started working for a public and private partnership scheme for the COWD as a cooperative and with a bulk water supplier that has the capability to efficiently serve and meet the growing demand for treated water.
“I refer Rio Verde kay naa naman sila’y track record. Kaila na kita og aduna na’y agi,” Daba said in reference to the present COWD bulk water supplier, the Jose Alvarez-owned Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc..
Daba frowned over the entry of the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp., saying local officials were kept in the dark about its offer to supply treated water to COWD and about the firms’ subsequent joint venture agreement.
“Kung dunay nakahibalo sila ra. Nganong nahimo kana nga contract nga wala kahibalo ang city council? Dili gyud unta ma-privatize but only PP scheme. COWD has P2.8 billion but Ficco alone has P14 billion in assets,” he said.
Daba said the COWD and Rio Verde should work to improve their relations and so they could meet eye to eye.
“Magsinabota ra unta sila kay ang mag-antus ani mao ang katawhan. Ang amo lang sa city council nga dili madala sa alanganin ang katawhan sa pagpasulod sa usa ka supplier nga walay gamit dinhi sa syudad,” he said.