Baciwa’s water source

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

LAST WEEK I cited the reported statement of Lorendo Dilag, chairman of the Bacolod City Water District board of directors, that they have no fund for expansion and thus they are entering into a partnership with Prime Water that has presumably the capability to provide what the water district needs – money and water. So far, however the matter of water sourcing has not been made public due probably to the secrecy of the negotiations. Money-wise, Prime Water has reportedly plenty. What of water?

But what has not been made public is that Baciwa has does not own a spring water source; its own only deep wells. This fact will raise the question as to whether Prime Water will supply the water or rely on what Baciwa has.

From the information recently made available to me, Prime Water may have serious problems with its supply if it relied on Baciwa’s present source. Is Prime Water aware that Baciwa’s mainspring water supply might be closed?

This seems farfetched because Baciwa has been in the business of providing Bacolod with water since 1929 under the Yulo Water Works System. Its main water source has been under legal contest for years and although Baciwa became a government corporation when the martial law government nationalized all water systems in the country, the issue of ownership of these sources remains under question.

The water district relies on two major water springs, Boro-boro and Bokal-bokal and several deep wells to augment these sources, some of which had already closed. There are other springs, so the question is why were these deep wells dug at all? We will find answers to this later.

A decision issued by the Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Ana Celeste P. Bernad last October 3, 2018 shows that Baciwa is drawing water from Boro-boro that belongs to a private citizen, Edmundo Sausi. Information from the Sausi family says that since 1973, Baciwa has been piping in water from this privately-owned spring without paying a single centavo. That seems unjust because Baciwa is selling this water and in fact, its main source of revenue. But how did this happen?

This is a long story but let us take a few aspects of it to bring out the fact that Baciwa is taking water from a source that is not its own and outside the geographical territory where it has a license to draw water. This in fact involves a discrepancy in the location of Baciwa’s water permit that makes that permit illegal.

Judge Bernad found that the owner of the land in which this Boro-boro spring is located is Edmundo Sausi. The land was claimed by Erle Vadlit Gonzales who presented a title of ownership over the property. The court found the title spurious and she ordered the Office of the Register of Deeds of Occidental Negros to cancel the title presented by Gonzales and to recover Lot 1017 and give it “to the rightful owners, Aquilino Saosao married to Celedonia Bancao”.

This couple are the forebears of Edmundo Sausi. Don’t ask about the difference in the spelling of the family name unless you want to go back to history during World War II. The fact, according to the court, is that Edmundo Sausi and therefore his heirs are the real owners of the land.

I am not aware whether Gonzales has appealed this decision or not, but the fact is that as of last week the Sausi family has not received any notice that there is an appeal. They think that either an appeal was filed but denied or it was filed and not pursued.

Anyway, now Alex Sausi, the eldest son of Edmundo, and representing his siblings are poised to demand from Baciwa payment for every drop of water that Baciwa took since 1973when it was legally constituted as the sole water provider of Bacolod. That’s many years to whatever day Baciwa and Sausi will agree.

When I received the court decision, Alex Sausi has not yet taken legal action, but may now close access to his property or bring Baciwa to court. Whichever road he takes, the fact is that now the court has recognized the true owner of the land where the Boro-boro spring is located.

There are two other springs close by, but we’ll discuss them later. We are just beginning on this issue.