RTC denies: Petition for injunction filed by ex-MNWD GM

By Paolo Gabriel Jamer


Presiding Judge Valentin E. Pura Jr., of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 in Naga City denied on April 7, 2022 the application for writ of preliminary injunction filed by the dismissed general manager (GM) of the Metro Naga Water District (MNWD) seeking to stop the water district’s board of directors (BOD) from implementing Board Resolution No. 15, s. 2020 dismissing him as GM due to loss of trust and confidence.

Following the court’s denial of application for injunction and the expiration of the 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on April 7 this year, the MNWD BOD issued on April 8 a memorandum informing the management and employees of the water district that ex-GM Engr. Virgilio Luansing I “can no longer exercise any authority over its officers and employees.


The memo dated April 8 signed and noted by Marilissa J. Ampuan and Gilbert Albero, secretary and chairman, respectively of the MNWD BOD, also stated that: “Any document requested by him will require a written request and approval from the Board of Directors and any outside representation made by him is considered NULL and VOID. He will not be allowed within the office premises except as a paying customer and barred from accessing MNWD facilities and properties.”


Emma Cuyo, assistant GM for Administration and Finance, was designated by the BOD as acting GM to replace Luansing.


Luansing’s was removed by the MNWD BOD based on mismanagement, inefficiency and poor judgment in the performance of his duties resulting in financial losses for three consecutive years, 2019-2021. He was also blamed for his failure to minimize non-revenue water, which led to huge wastage of water and grave loss of income, and existence of several irregularities on the purchase of two lots measuring a total of 16,469 square meters with a combined price of P82.4 million.


The first lot measuring 5,669 square meters located at Mabolo, Naga City, was bought for the price of P5,044.98/square meter or for an amount of P28.6 million. The lot is for the proposed Bicol River Surface Water Treatment Plant.


The second lot measuring 10,800 square meters located at Balatas, Naga City, was purchased by the MNWD at the price of P4,983.58/square meter or for the price of P53.8 million. The lot is intended for the MNWD office expansion project. It was bought from spouses Roberto and Rosemarie Obiedo.


The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) zonal valuation for both lots is pegged at P1,500.00/square meter at the time they were acquired by the water district.


These lots were purchased during the term of Jorge Palma as MNWD BOD chairman. Palma and four other directors approved the procurement of the two lots. The four, who are still incumbent BOD members are Gilbert Albero, Monina Lily Claveria, Agileo Michael Pauig, and Marilissa Jimenez-Ampuan.


These directors were all appointed by former Naga City Mayor John Bongat.


Luansing, in several media interviews prior to his suspension and removal from office, said that as GM, he merely recommended to the BOD the acquisition of the lots and that it was the BOD that approved the purchase of the same.


Engr. Emeterio Aman, former chairman and incumbent member of the BOD, started exposing as early as 2021, the irregularities and financial losses in MNWD when he assumed the board chairmanship. Initially, he was alone in his crusade to cleanse the water district of mismanagement and inefficiency. It was only in February this year that Albero, the current board chairman, admitted in public that the water district’s 3-year consecutive losses in operation was due to mismanagement.


Aman, who was appointed by Mayor Nelson Legacion, in a subsequent radio interview on Feb. 21 with top notch broadcast journalist Joe Osabal over radio program Asintado sa Radyo, accused Luansing of misleading water consumers and BOD members about an impending water shortage to justify the purchase of Mabolo lot.


Osabal, as a broadcast journalist, also played a major role in the removal of Luansing as he consistently discussed and exposed in his radio program the anomalies, mismanagement and inefficiency of the GM of the water district.


Meanwhile, Pura set the trial on the merits of the case filed by Luansing against the BOD members of the MNWD on April 20, 21 and 22, 2022.