MNWD GM blasts Board on suspension

for being illegal and arbitrary


By Paolo Gabriel Jamer


The general manager (GM) of the Metro Naga Water District (MNWD), who was preventively suspended by the Board of Directors (BOD) for seven-days starting March 7, did not take his suspension sitting down as he slammed the directors for “baselessly and arbitrarily” imposing the suspension against him “without preliminary investigation or a formal charge.”


To recall, the five-member MNWD BOD, by a unanimous vote, issued Board Resolution No. 11, series of 2022, preventively suspending GM Virgilio Luansing I based on the following seven alleged offenses: mismanagement; failure to minimize Non-Revenue Water (NRW); poor performance; failure to properly adjust the corporate operating budget for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021; making pretense as to the existence of water shortage; failure to resolve lingering issues conderning MNWD Employees’ Provident Fund; and failure to resolve issues concerning the purchase of lots for the proposed Bicol River Surface Water Treatment Plant (BRSWTP) and MNWD Office Expansion.

Luansing, in his letter to the MNWD BOD dated March 8, which served as his answer to the 48-hour deadline given to him by the BOD to explain why his services should not be terminated on the ground of loss of confidence, also accused the directors of “gross abuse of authority” for padlocking the Office of the General Manager (OGM) purportedly to deny him entry to his office and access any office properties and personal files. The order prohibiting the GM from entering his office and the MNWD compound was pursuant to BOD Memorandum No. 2022-22.


In his reply to the Board, Luansing expressed his “vehement opposition to the Board Resolution, which is illegal, arbitrary, contrary to Civil Service rules, and violative of due process.”


Fishing Expedition, witch-hunt


He said the “ Board Resolution (suspending him) was geared towards a ‘fishing expedition’ or ‘witch-hunting’ to ensnare” him “into admitting your baseless accusations, which are bereft of specific material allegations and supporting documents. This fishing expedition is indicative of the absence of evidence to establish probable cause.”


In his six-page answer addressed to the BOD, Luansing, said “no preliminary investigation was held before the issuance of the Board Resolution, which partakes of a Notice of Charge, and your imposition of preventive suspension.” He added that it was evident that the aim of the BOD “was to conduct thorough investigation and validation of the antecedent facts. In other swords, while you have not found any probable cause to indict the undersigned for any charge nor conducted the required preliminary investigation as of yet, you required me to submit an explanation to (non-existing) administrative charges, and worse, unilaterally imposed preventive suspension without any formal charge.”


The beleaguered GM, in questioning the BOD’s order of preventive suspension, was citing procedural blunders (on the part of the BOD), which are violative of Civil Service rules, particularly, the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS) promulgated by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on July 3, 2017.


He said he “cannot fathom how the Board arrived at a prima facie case to indict me for a charge (if any) when all it has were mere allegations, suppositions, and speculations, if not guess work.


Luansing added that resolution suspending him “contained vague and general statements of facts and was unsupported by any documents as it was issued before conducting any thorough investigation and validation of facts.”


This violates my rights to due process and to be adequately informed of the nature and cause of accusation against me, he said.


Request for information


Luansing requested the BOD for the following information: “What are the acts or omissions constituting ‘mismanagement’ (that) led to the net losses from 2019 to 2021?; What period did the undersigned allegedly fail to minimize NRW that purportedly led to water shortage and income loss?; What acts or omissions by the undersigned constituting ‘ poor performance’ led to lower net income in January 2022 compared to last year?; How did the undersigned falsely pretend on the existence of a water shortage? When did the undersigned commit his pretense?; What are the ‘lingering issues’ on the MNWD Employees’ Provident Fund and purchases of lots for the proposed BRSWTP and MNWD Office Expansion, which the undersigned allegedly failed to resolve?”


He also requested the BOD for a total of 27 documents, reports, minutes of meetings, and financial statements related to the charges against him.


Who is Luansing?


Documents obtained by Bicol Mail show that the MNWD BOD appointed Luansing as full-fledged general manager (GM) in August 2018, seven months after he assumed as acting GM. Prior to that, he was the division manager of the Planning, Design, and Construction Division and OIC of the Environment and Water Resource Division.


He joined MNWD in 2006 after working in the private sector for 16 years.


He graduated from the University of Nueva Caceres with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and Master’s in Public Administration at the Naga College Foundation. A gun enthusiast, he is a member of the Philippine Practical Shooting Association (PPSA) and also an active member of professional, and religious organizations such as Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) and Cofradia De San Jose—Guardias De Maria.


He and his wife, Nida, have four children.


Under his leadership, MNWD earned an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification (ISO 9001:2015) in all of its business processes including the provision of services on water resources development, water supply and distribution. The water district led by Luansing also received several awards from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Naga City government, and other private and public bodies.


On Tuesday, March 15, his 7-day suspension which ended on March 14, was extended by the MNWD BOD until Friday, March 18.


As of presstime, the BOD has not yet issued a statement on the fate of Luansing, whether he will remain as GM or he will be replaced or dismissed from the service.


Emma Cuyo, the assistant GM for Finance, was designated as MNWD officer-in-charge while Luansing is still suspended.