Around five months after announcing an increase in water rates for commercial and industrial users, Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) Board of Directors (BOD) Chairman Jose 'Joey' Daluz III said they plan to finally implement it this April.

This, he said, would be done once MCWD is able to talk with affected business owners.

The increase was supposed to start last Dec. 1 after Daluz announced it through a press conference in the middle of November of 2023.

He, however, told The Freeman that they deferred the implementation as they have yet to meet with the business sector, which requested a postponement until a 'win-win' solution is reached.

'Wala pa (na-implement). Supposedly April 1 tingali atong i-implement. Katong December 1 niingon mi nga among i-implement, but we still have to talk to the businessmen kay tingali para dili sila makalitan,' he said during The Freeman's 'Hot Seat' episode.

He had announced that the increase is MCWD's way of correcting an error made over a decade ago, when residential, commercial, and industrial users paid a uniform rate starting in 2010.

'When you say residential, you can say water is life. But when you say commercial, industrial, it's just an expense, an operating expense. Lahi ra gyud,' he said.

'Ilang rason, nawagtang kuno ang exclusivity sa MCWD. Everyone was thinking that MCWD is exclusive franchise on water. Because of the Adala case, ang Supreme Court niingon man to nga walay exclusivity ang MCWD,' Daluz said.

'They said they want to compete with the private (sector) nga mga water business. However, after 10, 12 years, 14 years, kita na man nuoy naalaot, nidako na man nuon kaayo ang mga private (water providers). Sayop diay tong gitagaan nato sila'g benefit nga pareho sa residential rate,' he added.

Daluz said that if only the standard rates were applied properly, MCWD could have profited and gained funds for its infrastructure projects.

'Gusto namo na usbon sa current board nga ibalik namo, kuhaon namo ang exemption sa gi-request pag-2010, nga mobalik ta sa prescribed rate sa LWUA (Local Water Utilities Administration),' he said.

He emphasized that implementation of the LWUA-mandated rate would not affect the residential consumers.

'We are now protecting the residential (users)...because water is a necessity. We have promised our service area there will be no increase in the residential (rate). As long as I am the (BOD) chairman, we are the board (of directors). But for commercial and industrial (users), we have to follow the prescribed rates of LWUA,' Daluz said.

Once the standard LWUA rates are implemented, commercial users would start paying two times the residential rate, while industrial users would pay three times more.

Daluz's term as MCWD BOD chairman would end on Dec. 31, 2024. His continuing to hold the position has been contentious, however, after Mayor Michael Rama replaced him last October 2023.

Daluz refused to honor the mayor's action, arguing that the LWUA is the only one that can remove him from the board as its chairman.

The MCWD officials and employees had also said it would support a status quo, essentially saying it recognized Daluz as BOD chairman and not the mayor's appointee.

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