Consumer Group Calls for Audit of COWD Management and Performance

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United Filipino Consumers and Commuters Petition for Audit of Cagayan de Oro Water District

The United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) have recently taken action by filing a petition before the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in Manila, Philippines. The petition seeks an audit of the management and performance of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) in response to numerous complaints from consumers.

UFCC President Rodolfo “RJ” Javellana Jr. emphasized the need for a comprehensive audit, citing the challenges faced by consumers in accessing reliable water services. In a statement, Javellana expressed concern over the high water bills paid by many Cagayanons, while some officials allegedly prioritize profit over providing quality services.

The petition was not only addressed to LWUA but also to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. This demonstrates the UFCC’s commitment to holding accountable those responsible for the management of the COWD.

To better understand the root causes of the problem, the UFCC conducted research, particularly in light of the recent water crisis that almost led to a citywide water shortage. Based on the information gathered, a meeting between COWD and Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI), the city’s water supplier, was scheduled for April 30, 2024, to discuss long-standing issues related to the water distributor’s debt to COBI.

Unfortunately, the meeting did not take place as planned, as COWD representatives, including their board of directors, failed to show up. Only one member of the COWD Board of Directors was present, which did not meet the quorum requirement.

The UFCC raised a crucial question: why did the COWD Board of Directors not attend such an important meeting when the continued service of clean water flow to households was at stake?

In light of these developments, Javellana emphasized the need for LWUA to conduct an investigation to determine if there was negligence on the part of COWD. The UFCC’s manifesto highlighted COWD’s persistently high non-revenue water (NRW) rate, which indicates water lost due to leaks, theft, or inefficiencies.

According to the UFCC, COWD’s NRW rate was recorded at 55.39 percent in 2021 and decreased slightly to 50.05 percent in 2022. These high NRW rates resulted in significant financial losses amounting to P765.68 million.

The UFCC also pointed out that COWD’s high NRW rate contradicts the long-standing order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to conserve water. This raises concerns about the district’s ability to meet the community’s water needs effectively.

Furthermore, the UFCC expressed worries about COWD’s alleged lack of sufficient board meeting records and questionable financial practices. The group believes that inefficient operations, incompetent management, irresponsibility, and lack of accountability are potential reasons why consumers in Cagayan de Oro are at risk of water shortages.

To ensure the continued provision of clean water to the community, the UFCC emphasized the need to rectify water wastage caused by flawed systems and mismanagement. This objective aligns with President Marcos Jr.’s call to conserve water and highlights the importance of holding COWD accountable for its actions.

The UFCC’s petition for an audit of the COWD’s management and performance seeks to address the concerns and complaints of consumers in Cagayan de Oro. By advocating for transparency, accountability, and the efficient provision of clean water, the UFCC aims to safeguard the rights and well-being of the community.

Source: The Manila Times

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