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Criminal cases slapped on LMWD officials for RTC decision defiance.

THE board of directors (BOD) of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) appointed by the Leyte provincial government filed criminal charges before the city prosecutor's office against the officers appointed by Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez.

The provincial government-appointed LMWD-BOD said they were forced to continue the legal battle after the Romualdez-appointed General Manager Pastor Homeres and four board members to the LMWD vehemently defied the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tacloban City issued on February 2.

The groups' court battle was further aggravated by the Metro Manila-based Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) decision that recognized the appointment of Homeres and his board members.

A fact-checking at the LWUA, the BusinessMirror learned LWUA's decision was approved and signed by the agency's administrator, Jeci Lapus, and was released on February 20.

The provincial government-appointed LMWD Board said they were extremely surprised and alarmed with Lapus's decision since this was different from LWUA's previous decision.

LWUA has recognized the appointees of the provincial government with respect to the judgement of the RTC in Tacloban City.

LWUA leadership had already issued a 'confirmation' on the LMWD board appointed by the provincial government, wherein it strongly cited the 'fixed term' provision stipulated in the LMWD Constitution and by-laws. The aggrieved party asserted the LWUA should have stood by its previous decision and maintain its recognition of the ruling of the RTC in Tacloban City instead of favoring the appointees of Romualdez.

The BusinessMirror published decision of the the RTC in Tacloban City, penned by Judge Leonito S. Sabandal, which stated that the 'respondents [referring to the LMWD Board appointed by the provincial government] ought to be respected in their status as incumbent members of the board of directors of the LMWD which was the prevailing status at the time this petition was filed up until January 17, 2018.'

Another salient point of Sabandal's ruling was 'the fact, therefore, remains that respondents stay as the incumbent board of directors of LMWD, and no amount of support or force can change that, lest we promote a society where the rule of men prevails over the rule of law.'

The group opposed to Homeres strongly argued LWUA's support to Romualdez's men based on the Supreme Court's (SC) decision on Rama v. Moises case (GR 197146) and in accordance with the mandate of LWUA under Letter of Instructions 744 issued on September 28, 1978, was without merit at all.

The aggrieved LMWD board reiterated and emphasized that the legal arguments of their lawyers who stated that 'LWUA misinterpreted the said SC decision to favor the illegally appointed LMWD-BOD.'

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 5, 2018
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