Iloilo starts probe into P3M water deal

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ILOILO CITY: Acting as a committee of the whole, the Sangguniang Panlungsod here has started its investigation on the alleged anomaly on a water delivery transaction worth P3 million at the height of severe drought and water shortage that hit the city in April and May this year.

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Presided by city Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, the city councilors invited members of the bids and awards committee, several barangay captains and Liga ng mga Barangay to shed light on the non-delivery of potable water to 21 barangays listed down as having severe water shortage with their wells drying up. Officers of Holland Water Corporation were also invited but failed to attend the hearing.

Some of these barangays have no water pipes serviced by the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) while some have connections but receive no water from MIWD.

Baronda said the controversy arose when the barangays reported that no water was delivered by Holland Water Corporation despite their early request for water delivery. It was also found out that the water corporation has no water tank to deliver water.

Barangay captains Jonathan Jalandoni of Ingore, La Paz district and Efrain Tagaytayan of Calahunan, Mandurriao district, and village chief Madonna Martin of Barangay Concepcion testified under oath that no water delivery from Holland Water reached their barangays. Only water deliveries by firetrucks of Iloilo City Action Group (ICAG) reached their constituents to augment their very minimal water supply.

In response the city council passed Resolution 2016-213 requesting the BAC and the awardee Holland Corporation to submit a written explanation regarding the failure of the delivery of water in the affected barangays.

In their letter dated May 24, 2016 to Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III and members of the city council, BAC vice chair Norlito Bautista said the BAC is not in a position to comment on the matter as by provision of law, BAC authority in connection with every procurement activity ends upon the issuance of the Notice to Proceed due to the concerned awardee.

Earlier, city legal officer Daniel Dinopol wrote Holland Water dated May 17, that the city government will no longer continue its water acquisition for distribution to the different barangays because of the onset of the rainy season as well as continued supply from MIWD.

However, Joseph Ting Llacer of Holland Water informed the city council that their company faithfully complied with its obligation as specified in the Notice to Proceed, Purchase Order and other documents.

“On the other hand, it is the city through Atty. Daniel Dinopol who reneged in its commitments because contrary to the express language of the mentioned documents we were directed to cease and desists from making further deliveries,” Llacer said in his letter to the city council dated May 23.

City Councilor R. Leone Gerochi said that Holland Water can be charged in court for dishonesty since the corporation has no water delivery trucks and that several barangays already testified that Holland delivered no water to them.

It was reported that Holland Water was claiming payment at city hall for the water deliveries. The city council members will convene again to continue the investigation.

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