EDITORIAL: Form independent body to probe MNWD mess



The removal of Engr. Jojo Luansing as general manager I(GM) of the Metro Naga Water District (MNWD) may have helped create an impression of normal operations temporarily. The outcome should not however pave the way towards whitewash.


This is so because what the water district needs is a top to bottom cleansing which may even necessitate a holistic approach and the relief of Luansing only serves as palliative.


That is why the pronouncements of the erstwhile GM though apparently mixed with bitterness, deserves open-mindedness. While under the law the board of directors acted justifiably, still the aftermath does not at all help in the cleansing process.


A case in point is the expose that Gilbert Albero, while already performing the role as member of the board, still transacted business as supplier of certain items to the MNWD. Albero has publicly confirmed Luansing’s claim. Such being the case the issue merits an in-depth inquiry.


The probe should tap not only the Commission on Audit. It may even necessitate formation of an independent body to gather the sensitive data. That some top level officials, directors included, are also in the take is not farfetched. Otherwise, how come that the irregularity got bared only now? There is that sneaking suspicion that quid pro quo is at play.


A thorough study on the sectoral representations composing the MNWD board is a must, given the observation that most of the directors have overlapping interests.


For instance, one who is a professional and a business person can have the option whether to represent the business or professional sector. This is what happens to Albero who happens to be engaged in the business of supplying water pumps to the water district. Obviously, conflict of interest exists.


Another complication is representation of the education sector in the sense that it is not clear whether the sectoral representative is part of the board professionally or as a business person for being a stockholder of an educational institution.


Other possible scenarios: A realtor/director has vested interest on MNWD’S procurement of real estate; A caterer/restaurant owner corners catering service needs of the water district; and a director engaged in the business of providing manpower may also corner the business. And if MNWD is over staffed, there is a strong possibility that MNWD is being utilized for political and eventually transactional purposes.


Of late, there lurks the prospect of conflict of interest involving housing and land developments, which could run counter to the interest of common drinking water consumers. Questionable land conversion is also sensed.


The worst scenario is when certain members of the board find MNWD as an agency to cover up their being on the brink of bankruptcy and face the risk of being proceeded against legally by their investors.


Finding the parties ideal to help introduce innovations and devoid of vested interest will be a very tedious process. Be that as it may, it is better than presiding over the death of the MNWD, which mandate is to provide potable water for the consumers and not render faucets going dry.