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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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COWD’s new position in COBI debt row to take three months to formulate

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by MARK FRANCISCO

IT would take around three months more before the interim board and management of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) could formulate a final position regarding the demand of its supplier Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water, Inc. (COBI) to pay up a P479-million debt.
“Dili ta magdali-dali. We have to take into account a lot of factors so we can make a sound definitive stand on the matter,” COWD interim general manager Fermin Jarales said after emerging from a meeting with Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma July 1.
Jarales said the legal aspect of COBI’s demand is easy to understand but its financial aspect would take longer to work out.
Since 2021 and before May 29, it was the consistent position of the COWD board and management that they had no outstanding debt at COBI due to force majeure.
But COBI never accepted COWD’s invoking of the force majeure clause in their contract, thus the ballooned debt of P479 million as of May this year.
COWD’s position on the matter was abruptly set aside on May 29 when the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) intervened in the policies and operations of the water utility on the pretext of an alleged default in their own internal contract.
With an interim board and management in place, COWD is formulating a fresh stand on the matter.
“All aspects must be carefully studied. This is part of the dispute resolution process,” Jarales said.
He added that they have to wait for the release of the 2023 Commission on Audit (COA) report and observations before they could move forward.
There is one who could not though – former Councilor Enrico Salcedo.
Bringing with him 17,228 signatures from his constituency demanding for the rescinding of the COWD-COBI contract, Salcedo said the people could not wait any longer.
Jarales retorted back, saying that it is not just Salcedo’s group Bantay Tubig Movement that they would be listening to.
“Our final definitive stand must be as comprehensive as possible. We will be taking into account the COA report, the inputs of Mayor Klarex’s Task Force Water, the recommendations of technical and grassroots stakeholders etcetera because water is everyone’s concern. It is not just Konsehal Eric’s concern,” he said.
That process is expected to wrap up in three months.

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