Criminal cases slapped on LMWD officials for RTC decision defiance

THE board of directors (BOD) of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) appointed by the Leyte provincial government filed criminal charges before the city prosecutor’s office against the officers appointed by Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez.

The provincial government-appointed LMWD-BOD said they were forced to continue the legal battle after the Romualdez-appointed  General Manager Pastor Homeres and four board members to the LMWD vehemently defied the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tacloban City  issued on February 2.

The groups’ court battle was further aggravated by the Metro Manila-based Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) decision that recognized the appointment of Homeres and his board members.

A fact-checking at the LWUA, the BusinessMirror learned LWUA’s decision was approved and signed by the agency’s administrator, Jeci Lapus, and was released on February 20.

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The provincial government-appointed LMWD Board said they were extremely surprised and alarmed with Lapus’s decision since this was different from LWUA’s previous decision.

LWUA has recognized the appointees of the provincial government with respect to the judgement of the RTC in Tacloban City.

LWUA leadership had already issued a “confirmation” on the LMWD board appointed by the provincial government, wherein it strongly cited the “fixed term” provision stipulated in the LMWD Constitution and by-laws. The aggrieved party asserted the LWUA should have stood by its previous decision and maintain its recognition of the ruling of the  RTC in Tacloban City instead of favoring the appointees of Romualdez.

The BusinessMirror published decision of the the RTC in Tacloban City, penned by Judge Leonito S. Sabandal, which stated that the “respondents [referring to the LMWD Board appointed by the provincial government] ought to be respected in their status as incumbent members of the board of directors of the LMWD which was the prevailing status at the time this petition was filed up until January 17, 2018.”

Another salient point of Sabandal’s ruling was “the fact, therefore, remains that respondents stay as the incumbent board of directors of LMWD, and no amount of support or force can change that, lest we promote a society where the rule of men prevails over the rule of law.”

The group opposed to Homeres strongly argued LWUA’s support to Romualdez’s men based on the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision on Rama v. Moises case (GR 197146) and in accordance with the mandate of LWUA under Letter of Instructions 744 issued on September 28, 1978, was without merit at all.

The aggrieved LMWD board reiterated and emphasized that the legal arguments of their lawyers who stated that “LWUA misinterpreted the said SC decision to favor the illegally appointed LMWD-BOD.”

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Nelson S. Badilla started writing for various publications in November 1994 and stopped in December 2006. Then, he started teaching in various universities from 2007 to 2016. He returned to media profession in November 2014 until he joined in the Business Mirror last February this year. Badilla finished Doctor of Education, Major in Educational Management, program from the University of Rizal System (2015). He obtained his Master of Public Administration from the University of the Philippines - National College of Public Administration and Governance (2007). He first took up his bachelor's degree, AB Political Science, from the Lyceum of the Philippines and but finished it at the Philippine Christian University in Manila (2005). While writing stories for this paper, Dr. Badilla is set to teach Public Administration, Journalism, and Basic Economic courses starting this year.