Joe III calls for unity to address water woes

ILOILO City councilors in a huddle during a recess in their recent session. The debate over the state of calamity declaration at the City Council has spilled over to the media and even the legal circuit. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO City Mayor Jose Espinosa has appealed for unity in order to address the water problems in the metro.

Espinosa made the call amid the debate in the City Council on the declaration of the state of calamity to address the water crisis.

In an interview, Espinosa appealed to ‘Uswag’ councilors identified with his brother-in-law-turned-rival Rep. Jerry Treñas to stop the “melodrama” on the calamity issue.

“Let us stop the melodrama. We have made an oath nga maserbisyo ta sa pumuluyo, serbisyohan ta niWala na boycottanay,” he said.

Uswag councilors have been absent from the regular sessions of the Sangguniang Panlungsod since April 30, 2019 in a bid to scuttle the calamity declaration. But the declaration was eventually passed despite the absence of 5 councilors and Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon.

The mayor also has a message for Treñas:

“Pumuluyo ta man bala, updan ta na lang ni cong (Treñas). Updan ta lang ni, damo ka pa rekobikos. Let us join hands, ako ya welcome kamo tanan sa pag-updanay sini. Nag-fail naman tong inyo boycott and subong may kaso-kaso pa kamo,” Espinosa said.

Team ‘Uswag’ and Team ‘Arangka’ of Espinosa are the main contestants for the top local positions in Iloilo City in the May 13, 2019 midterm polls.



To recall, Team ‘Uswag’ members Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Councilors Love Baronda, Ely Estante, Armand Parcon, Irene Ong, and Jay Treñas have been absent for the past three sessions of the SP.

The Uswag councilors filed special leaves on April 26 and April 30, which also fall on the regular sessions of the SP. Councilor Leila Luntao is still on an official travel.

Team ‘Uswag’ also scuttled the City Council session on April 23, which led to a lack of quorum, stalling the calamity declaration.

But their absence did not stop the Sangguniang Panlungsod from declaring a state of calamity in Iloilo City due to the prolonged dry spell caused by El Niño on Friday.

Eight councilors from Team ‘Arangka’ of Mayor Jose Espinosa III and “cross liners” from Team ‘AlGoNa’ present in the session approved the resolution placing Iloilo City under a State of Calamity.

The declaration was then questioned by the ‘Uswag’ team citing the lack of quorum during the declaration of the state of calamity.

They also questioned the city government’s utilization of the calamity fund claiming that the money for the calamity fund will be used for the political machinery of the current administration in the upcoming elections.

Recently, Team ‘Uswag’ turned their objection into legal moves by writing a letter to Espinosa and all department heads informing them that councilors from Team ‘Arangka’ and ‘AlGoNa’ violated Republic Act 10121 for using false and inflated data in support of request for funding.

But Espinosa insisted that he will not use the money outside the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC).

“We will follow the recommendations sang CDRMMC kay ina ya that is for emergency. Ako ya I will follow the legal recommendations,” he said.

The mayor also committed that he will abide with the rules of the Commission on Audit (COA) and other legalities.

“We should follow the COA rules on how to expend the emergency fund, indi siling na ipalagpatan mo lang, there should be procedure. Sa aton pumuluyo, rest assured kamo it will be spent according sa law,” he emphasized.

As of now, Espinosa said they are finalizing the paper works and other processes including the needed requirements with regards to the water rationing on the affected barangays in the city.

Espinosa also emphasized that they have not touched the P34.7 million allotted budget out of its P115 million local disaster risk reduction and management (LDRRM) funds.

“It is still in tack and wala pa naton matandug,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDRRMO head Donna Magno have met with the barangays on Thursday to discuss on how they will utilize the 30 percent quick response (QRF).

Magno said they have also written a letter to ask the rates of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD).

The MIWD and the city government is expected to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and tap identified fire hydrants to supply the city’s water needs.