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Capitol to file complaints vs officials involved in ‘anomalous’ transactions 
By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Friday, November 06, 2020
In a meeting with Carmen local officials, Gov. Gwen Garcia said cases will soon be filed to private and public officials involved in the "anomalous" transactions with Manila Water Consortium Inc. (Lito Tecson)

The Provincial Government of Cebu will soon be filing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against public and private officials involved in the “anomalous and grossly disadvantageous transaction” in the joint agreement of the Province for a bulk water supply project with Manila Water Consortium Inc. (MWCI). 

“The complaint has already been prepared, I am just reviewing it,” Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia told reporters in a press conference Thursday, November 5.

Garcia, however, declined to name the officials but added that certain government officials who have the knowledge of the transaction will be held liable. 

“We are preparing a case to be filed against those persons that we believe should be directly responsible, since they knew the history, and had at the time, the political influence to brazenly violate the terms of a joint investment agreement which I had signed, for which at the time I had the authority to sign, given by the Provincial Board, presided by a person who knew the entire history of this whole proposal,” the governor said. 

Earlier, the Provincial Board (PB) granted Garcia the authority to file criminal, administrative and civil cases against persons involved in the transactions in question.

“Certainly, we will include some officials, not all. We will include officials of Manila Water and other John Does. We just want to single out those officials who have prior knowledge and should have protected the interest of the Province of Cebu and not their own political interest as well as their own connections with Manila Water,” she added. 

MWCI and the Province of Cebu inked a Joint Investment Agreement in 2012 for the creation of the Cebu Manila Water Development, Inc. (CMWDI) which will supply bulk water to Metro Cebu by tapping surface water of Luyang River in Carmen.

When she assumed office in 2019, Garcia’s legal team conducted an audit on the agreement and found breaches which included an increase of the project cost or Capital Expenditure (capex) from P700 million to P1 billion.

The audit also revealed that MWCI failed to remit to the Capitol its receivables, while plowing back the earned revenues to the Capex and the Joint Investment Company (JICO).

It was also discovered that the changes made did not have the approval and authorization of the PB except for the minutes of a meeting where it was briefly mentioned. 

Only recently, the Province also found another breach when MWCI was digging two wells in Carmen without the approval from the Carmen municipal government and the Province. MWCI was digging the wells starting May this year.

Asked if the Capitol is still in talks with the officials of MWCI, the governor said, “It’s up to them. I already gave them our position. Apparently, they don’t know what to do. One is a senior citizen who said he does not want to travel. The other is saying he is probably afraid to face me.” (Vanessa L. Almeda)