RTC issues 20-day TRO on MNWD GM’s dismissal

By Paolo Gabriel Jamer


The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 in Naga City has issued a 20-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Metro Naga Water District (MNWD) ordering it “to cease and desist from proceeding with the on-going investigation” against General Manager (GM) Virgilio Luansing I and maintain the status quo whereby the latter is allowed to continue exercising his duties and responsibilities as GM while the TRO is in effect.


The TRO dated March 18, 2022 was issued after Luansing, on March 14, filed with the court Special Civil Case No. 2022-0011 for Certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedures with Application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction, 20-day TRO, and 72-hour TRO.


The TRO came a day after the MNWD BOD through Board Resolution No. 15, s. 2022 terminated the services of Luansing as GM due to loss of trust and confidence. He received the copy of the resolution terminating his services on March 17, 2022 at 3:10 PM.


On Monday, March 21, Luansing reassumed his post as GM by virtue of the TRO. The BOD complied with the court’s TRO, despite a contrary opinion from some directors that the order was already moot and academic as Luansing’s employment with MNWD was already terminated on March 17.


To recall, the MNWD GM was preventively suspended for a total of 12 days. Initially, he was suspended for 7-days (March 7-14) but it was subsequently extended until March 18 by the BOD. However, a day before the end of his suspension period, the BOD issued Resolution No. 15 terminating his services.


The BOD cited as bases of the dismissal order Luansing’s mismanagement, inefficiency and poor judgement in the performance of his duties in terms of the MNWD’s net losses for three consecutive years, 2019-2021; failure to minimize non-revenue water leading to huge wastage of water and grave loss of income; existence of several irregularities as to the purchase of properties during his term.


The BOD, in its resolution referred to two lots purchased in 2018 and 2019 by the MNWD through the recommendation of Luansing.


The first lot, measuring 5,669 square meters, located at Barangay Mabulo, Naga City, was bought by the water district in 2018 for P5,044.98 per square meter or for the total amount of P28.6 million. The zonal valuation of similar adjacent properties in the area was only P1,500/square meters at that time. This lot is intended for the proposed site of the Bicol River Surface Water Treatment Plant.


The second lot located in Balatas, Naga City with an area of 10,800 square meters was purchased by the MNWD on Dec. 20, 2019 from spouses Roberto and Rosemarie Obiedo. This lot is the proposed site of the MNWD Office Extension.


It was bought at the price of P4,983.58 per square meter or for a total amount of P53.8 million. The zonal valuation of similar adjacent properties in the area was only P1,500/square meters at that time.


The acquisition of the two lots were approved by the Board then chaired by Jorge Palma. The other members of the BOD then are incumbent directors: Glibert Albero, now the Board chairman; Monina Lily Claveria; Marilissa Jimenez-Ampuan; and Agileo Michael Pauig.


Luansing, in several media interviews, said that he merely recommended to the Board the acquisition of the lots and that it was the Board that approved the purchase of the properties.