No engineer on board? Meet the people making decisions at MWSS amid supply crisis

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2019 08:05 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2019 09:31 PM

From the MWSS website

MANILA - During Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the water shortage in Metro Manila, senators criticized not only water distributor Manila Water but also the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said the MWSS had bigger shortcomings than Manila Water since it did not hear out the concessionaire’s warning of the impending water shortage.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also pointed out that the MWSS Board of Trustees did not have a civil engineer as a member. Instead, it has six lawyers, two military men and one chemical engineer.

Both Poe and Villanueva said it was probably why the policy-making body did not understand the situation.

In a message to ABS-CBN News, Poe said amending the MWSS chapter is “an option to clearly state the qualifications of the people who will man the regulatory agency."

“But as an immediate response…our appeal is for the appointing power to take a closer look at the composition of the MWSS Board,” she said. “The job at hand is a technical matter that requires the expertise of engineers, who have the grasp of the problems and solutions, and who have foresight about the water situation in the country."

Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6234 or the MWSS Charter states that MWSS board members "shall possess any one or a combination of the following qualifications: (a) duly licensed professional of recognized competence in civil engineering and/or sanitary engineering; (b) business management and finance, and law, or (c) recognized labor leader within the ranks with sufficient training, particularly in the field of labor-management relations or corporate practice."

Under this law, the chairman and members of the board will be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. They will have a term of three years.

ABS-CBN News looked into the qualifications of the members of MWSS Board of Trustees, as well as their salaries, which are regularly published by the Commission on Audit.

Here is what we found out:

Franklin Demonteverde
Chairman of the Board (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P531,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P50,910 per month)

Demonteverde is a retired judge who served in the Bacolod Regional Trial Court. He graduated with a degree in Business Administration-Management from the University of the East and then obtained a law degree from the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos. He worked in the insurance industry and as a lawyer for various companies, including the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Reynaldo Velasco
Administrator and vice chairman of the board (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P1,855,703.47 (includes P237,500 allowance and P152,601 incentive and benefits) as administrator + P567,000 as vice chair

Total: P2,422,703.47 (for 10.43 months or P232,282 per month)

Velasco is a retired general of the Philippine National Police. He used to be deputy director general and the first Special Action Force commander. He also served as mayor of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1971, has a master's degree in business administration, and a Ph.D. in Peace and Security Administration.

Merly Cruz
Member (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P561,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P53,787 per month)

*She also received an allowance of P96,000 in 2017 as a member of the Board of Directors of Northern Foods Corporation and P271,988.26 as BOD member of the Small Business Corporation. Her total receivables from the government in 2017 was P928,988.26.

Cruz is a former Undersecretary of the Regional Operations and Development Group of the Department of Trade and Industry and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Board of Investments. She has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Mapua Institute of Technology and a master's degree in business administration from the Ateneo de Davao University. According to the MWSS website, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Philippines Studies at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Jose Hernandez
Member (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P516,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P49,472.68 per month)

Hernandez is a retired Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan. He studied political science and law at the University of the Philippines and served as a regional trial court judge from 1986 to 2004. He was appointed to the MWSS after his retirement from the court.

Melanie Sia-Lambino
Member (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P576,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P55,225 per month)

Before being a member of the MWSS Board of Trustees, Lambino was a member of the People’s Law Enforcement Board of Quezon City and a senior lawyer at the Sia-Lambino Law Offices. She also briefly served as a supervising attorney at the Senate and a legal researcher or supervising officer at the Supreme Court. She has a law degree from San Sebastian College, and a master's degree in business/managerial economics from the University of Asia and the Pacific. She is married to Mark Ronald Lambino, who is currently running for the post of Pangasinan vice governor and is the son of Secretary Raul Lambino, who President Rodrigo Duterte appointed as administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in 2017.

Valeriano Pasquil
Member (took office Feb. 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P531,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P50,910.83 per month)

Before being part of the MWSS Board of Trustees, Pasquil had a private law practice in Davao City. He got his law degree from the Ateneo de Zamboanga. He was a former member of the Board of Directors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Davao City and the Davao City Golf Club.

Elpidio Vega
Ex-officio member as Government Corporate Counsel
(took office Sept. 2018)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: Does not receive an allowance as MWSS BOT member but earns P2,645,472 a year under the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel

Vega is the current government corporate counsel. He used to be deputy government corporate counsel before replacing Rudolf Philip Jurado, who was sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte after granting a permit for a casino. Vega has been with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel since 1986. He obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.

Mariano Alegarbes
Member (appointed March 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P483,000 (allowance for 10.43 months or around P53,666.67 per month)

Alegarbes is a lawyer and a former professor. He obtained his law degree from the University of Mindanao and has a master's degree in Education Management from Rizal Memorial Colleges. He was in the private law practice before he joined the MWSS Board. Before that, he was Chief Investigator and Police Prosecutor for the Davao Metropolitan District Command and head of the academics branch at the Philippine National Police Training Center in Davao City. He was also a professor at the University of Mindanao Davao City.

Melchior Acosta Jr.
Member and deputy administrator of the MWSS Regulatory Office
(appointed June 2017)

  • Salary/Allowance for 2017: P300,000 as Board member for 6 months + P236,198 as deputy administrator for 2 months

TOTAL: P536,198.29

Acosta is a former colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1971, the same class as Velasco. After leaving the military, he served as a consultant for several companies and politicians. He worked as technical assistant to former Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane and first became deputy administrator for customer service relations at MWSS from 2006 to 2011. He holds the same position now.

Sources:
https://ro.mwss.gov.ph/?page_id=4083
https://mwss.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/MWSS-Annual-Report-2017.pdf
https://www.coa.gov.ph/phocadownloadpap/userupload/report-on-salaries-and-allowances/CY2017_ROSA.pdf
https://www.grandlodge.ph/mw-franklin-j-demonteverde/
https://goodlifeinbacolod.ph/people/2017-ang-banwahanon-awardees/
https://www.sbgfc.org.ph/sites/default/files/short%20resume%20BODs%20final%20%28as%20of%20July%2013%2C%20218%29.pdf
https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1052016
https://edgedavao.net/sports/2013/04/28/dcgc-elects-new-directors/
https://mwss.gov.ph/dpwh-secretary-villar-swears-in-new-mwss-officials/
https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/19/17/14-new-presidential-appointees-named
https://mwss.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/BOT-Trustee-Acosta-Resume.pdf
https://www.scribd.com/document/78137721/Profile-of-Elpidio-J-Vega
https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/10/01/18/duterte-names-new-government-corporate-counsel

Editor's note: The initial title of this story mentioned Manila Water, instead of MWSS. We regret the error.