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‘Storm Beja’ brewing

Herbie Gomez.


THE week ended with a bang — with the announcement that the general manager of the Cagayan de Oro Water District, Engr. Rachel Beja, was fired by the board of directors of the utility effective March 1.

The reason given was “loss of trust and confidence.” Well, that is subjective, and that explains why people want details. The public, the city’s water consumers, are well within their right to require the COWD to give the details and, perhaps, come clean.

What is happening in the COWD is not the internal affairs of a private entity. First, while it looks, sounds and smells like a private company, it is a public entity with directors appointed by the mayor of Cagayan de Oro. Second, whatever happens within impacts on the commodity we call treated water. Yes, Cagayan de Oro’s water supply.

So far, Beja has given three reasons for the COWD’s drastic decision to terminate her services:

  • In February last year, she sent a draft of the then proposed joint venture agreement between the COWD and the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp. to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel for review. The board, according to Beja, felt it was a display of “disrespect” towards the COWD board for the general manager to consult the principal and statutory law office of government-owned-and-controlled corporations.
  • Beja said the COWD board frowned over a budget meeting of the water district’s managers in Cebu last year. This, she said, was also seen as “disrespectful.”
  • In December last year, the COWD threw a thanksgiving party for its “partners” and, according to Beja, the board’s chairman, Ed Montalvan, was disappointed because he was asked to give a welcome speech when what he supposedly wanted was to be the main speaker. Beja said that, again, was seen as “disrespect.”

That’s Beja’s version of the story, and none of the reasons she cited seem to be compelling grounds for dismissal from service. In fact, the three reasons, especially the last one, seem very petty and make the COWD board look like a body of jealous, unjust and capriciously malevolent child bullies that demand constant recognition, acknowledgment and homage unless, of course, if we are missing out on something. That is only one side of the story and until the COWD tells the public what just happened, serious questions would continue to hound the utility and its board of directors. At this time when the COWD’s lips are still sealed, there is really no way the reasons can be weighed to determine if the COWD board really did the right thing or not. And so, there is no other way but for COWD to open up.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Amd by all indications, this brouhaha is headed Metro Pacific’s and city hall’s way, or so it seems. Pastilan.


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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