By LITO RULONA
THE chairman of the city council’s public utilities committee yesterday called on the Cagayan de Oro Water District to brush aside the threat of Rio Verde Water Consortium Inc. to cut down the water pressure unless the public utility firm agrees to its increased water rate.
“Blackmail man kini o hold-up sa atubangan,” Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. said.
On Thursday, Rio Verde sent COWD a notice that it would be increasing the price of its treated water from P10.45 to over P16 for every cubic meter, and that it would reduce the water pressure unless the water district agreed by tomorrow, Nov. 1.
COWD chairman Eduardo Montalvan said the water district’s board held an emergency meeting on the matter yesterday.
“The threat is on Nov. 1 which is a holiday. We can only act by Nov. 2 if they will make good their threat,” said Montalvan.
Lao warned COWD against yielding to Rio Verde’s pressure, warning it of legal sanctions.
Lao also warned Rio Verde, saying the firm is courting a lawsuit.
“COWD and Rio Verde officials will face charges in court. Dili sila maka-impose sa rate hike kung walay recommendation sa city council,” he said.
He said the normal procedures include the holding of public consultations or public hearings. In Cagayan de Oro’s case, he said, these should be scheduled in the two districts and should involve the barangays.
He reiterated that any water rate increase in the city would need the green light of the city council.
“Ipatuman nila kay sila gyud ang manubag sa tanan. Pili lang sila — regular court o ombudsman,” Lao warned.
Lao said there was something fishy about the Rio Verde notice.
“Makaduda kini nga development. Dili ba kaha kini dula-dula lamang sa duha ka company,” said Lao, referring to Rio Verde and a new player, Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp..
Lao also called on the COWD and Rio Verde to sit down and agree for the sake of the city’s water consumers.
“Counter measures should immediately be done by COWD officials rather than wait for another water crisis to happen,” he said.