By NITZ ARANCON
and LITO RULONA
COUNCILORS George Goking and Edna Dahino yesterday expressed their opposition to a proposal for city hall to charge water consumers additional fees for the rehabilitation and protection of the city’s watersheds.
Goking called the proposed fees “double taxation” while Dahino said the local government could opt to look for other options rather than pass on the additional financial burden on the city’s water consumers.
The councilors said this the same day that former city legal officer Mart Maandig submitted a position paper to the office of Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy to strongly oppose Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya’s proposed ordinanance on the “payment for ecological services.”
If approved, it would allow city hall to collect from residential water consumers 25 centavos per cubic meter a month, and 50 centavos per cubic meter from commercial and industrial water consumers with the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) as its collection agent.
Nacaya based the proposed ordinance on the recommendation of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Development Council chaired by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma.
Goking said he would likely vote against Nacaya’s proposed ordinance if it reaches the plenary as is.
“Kon mag-session mi karon dayon, mag-vote against ko,” said Goking, chairman of the city council’s committee on ways and means.
He was a no-show during Tuesday’s joint meeting on Nacaya’s proposal by the the city council’s committees on urban and planning development chaired by Nacaya, finance chaired by Dahino, and environment chaired by Councilor Zaldy Ocon.
Goking told the Gold Star Daily that it would not be right for the local government to charge water consumers here additional fees when the COWD should be shouldering the cost.
He also pointed out that there are other big companies in the city like Del Monte Philippines that can help because they have funds for corporate responsibility.
“Kanang ordinance ni Nacaya, double taxation man kana,” said Goking even as he called for a wider public consultation about the proposal.
The public consultations, he said, should be citywide.
“We are not talking here of one peso but millions of pesos to be collected from the consuming public, and the businesssectors. Sa akong committee, halos dili gani kini hisgutan kay tanan nga residente ang affected niini,” he said.
Councilor Dahino, for her part, called for a “win-win” solution that would not further hurt the pockets of water consumers.
Dahimo urged Nacaya to re-think his proposed ordinance and to study it further.
“Daghan pa tag puweding makuha-an or something nga maka-create ta’g paagi nga dili lang mapaslak unta ang burden sa atong katawhan,” Dahino said.