TACLOBAN CITY—The provincial government of Leyte and the city government of Tacloban remain on speaking terms despite the legal battles over the management and control of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD), according to Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla.
“As far as the mayor is concerned, we see each other from time to time. We talk. What is important is the action after talking,” said Petilla.
The governor further assured that their camp will not resort to any violent action to resolve the deadlock between his appointed LMWD board of directors and the new appointees of Mayor Cristina Romualdez who assumed office in January this year.
“We have a strong economy, and we don’t want to be distracted by this,” Petilla said in an interview.
“We will respect the law because the law is the only thing that protects us from chaos. We have to sustain. Being the chief executive of Leyte, I should set an example to my constituents that we should follow the law, otherwise the people will not also follow and we’ll have chaos,” said Petilla, adding that he is leaving the issue to the courts.
After the management row between the province and the city ensued, concessionaires are also faced with a dilemma on where they are going to pay their water bills as there are now two “main” offices of LMWD: the old one in Nula-Tula, Tacloban where Romualdez-backed officials are holding office and the newly-opened “main” office at Leyte Academic Center in the neighboring town of Palo managed by Petilla-backed officials.
However, Petilla said that any collections made by the agency’s office in Palo will go to its account.
“Nonetheless, if ano man yan, kung ang tao nag bayad here or the other side, it should go to LMWD, and that the people should not be charged twice. It’s unfair (to the people). Problema ito ng LMWD,” added Petilla while saying that they will work on the collection problem after the water management issue will be resolved.
“I believe that every problem has a solution. But we have to work on that solution,” he said.
Bernardita Valenzuela, a city-appointed board of director, maintained the legitimacy of their posts, citing the recent SC’s decision in Rama v. Moises case (G.R. No. 197146) and in accordance with LWUA’s mandate under Letter of Instructions 744 issued on September 28, 1978 as the “test case” of their appointments.
“How can an inferior court go against the decision of the Supreme Court?” asked Valenzuela.
Meantime, the city-backed LMWD officials continue to assure of the water services in the resettlement areas in the northern barangays of Tacloban along with the rest of the municipalities covered by the water district.