CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Armed with a court order, the water provider servicing Barangay Lumbia and other upland villages this city insists they have the legal right to operate despite opposition from local officials and some residents.
Jed Lasmarias, general manager of Kyogojo Engineering Services Cooperative (KESC), said there is no reason for the local government of Lumbia to stop them from operating as the village’s water provider.
KESC, which started operating in 2010, currently serves potable water to about 2,300 consumers in the villages of Lumbia, Taguanao, and Baikingon.
On Thursday (Jan. 2), KESC entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with the Mindanao Cooperatives Water Service Foundation (MCWS) allowing the two entities to further expand their services to other highland barangays in the city and neighboring towns.
Lasmarias said the issue stemmed from the alleged desire of Lumbia’s incumbent officials, headed by chairman Alexander Torralba, to have a new firm take over the barangay’s water system.
“They want a new player to take control and manage the water system in Lumbia,” he told reporters during a press conference following the JVA signing.
Lasmarias said the local officials harassed KESC personnel and fenced the premises around the water provider’s wells. He also alleged the barangay council started collecting payments from water consumers, which Lasmarias said is considered “illegal” since KESC has not authorized the local government to collect on their behalf.
KESC has filed for a temporary restraining order at a local court to stop the barangay officials and their supporters from taking any further action against the company.
On Nov. 19, 2019, Judge Bonifacio Macabaya, the presiding judge of the Region Trial Court Branch 20, issued a writ of preliminary injunction to stop respondents from disrupting the day-to-day operations of KESC, including the receiving of payments from water consumers and other actions “detrimental to the water provider.”
Lasmarias said the Lumbia barangay council wanted to terminate the contract which was signed by the previous local government unit administration with the KESC.
“They just cannot terminate the contract since it will expire in 2028,” Lasmarias said, adding that they have secured the necessary permits from the city government and the National Water Resources Board.
He said both parties have reached the mediation level and KESC hopes the issues will be resolved. “Let’s wait for the court to decide,” he added.
As of this posting, Lumbia officials could not be reached for comment. (davaotoday.com)