Councilor tags mayor, congresswoman in Bulacan water tank explosion

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2018 07:21 PM | Updated as of May 28 2018 11:21 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan councilor Irene Del Rosario has filed four counts of murder and 43 counts of frustrated murder against Mayor Arthur Robes and Rep. Florida Robes at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the deadly water tank explosion in Barangay Muzon last year. 

Also included in the complaint are San Jose Del Monte Water District General Manager Loreto Limcolioc, Board Chairman Enrique Delos Santos and other officials namely Felipe Policarpio Jr., Victoria Camua, Jovita Mateo, Engr. Victor Canita; as well as Mayor Robes’ private secretary Perfecto Tagalog and a certain Gil Gayosa.

According to Del Rosario, the water tank explosion is linked to the supposed privatization of the town’s water supply under a P7 billion joint venture agreement between the water district and a private company. 

“The demand for justice is to punish the shenanigans who caused these senseless deaths caused by these persons whose desire to earn billions of pesos from the proposed privatization of the water district of the City of San Jose Del Monte is unstoppable that they even authored this act of exploding the water tank of San Jose Del Monte Water District if only to justify the necessity of engaging a big private investor to privatize the water district,” Del Rosario said in her complaint. 

The deadly water tank explosion happened on the morning of October 6, 2017 which resulted in a strong gush of water and flying debris causing four fatalities and 43 casualties.

In her complaint, Del Rosario also tagged a senator whose group of companies allegedly owns Primewater, which is supposed to take over the water supply operations of the town. 

“The circumstances showing that the main respondents are determined in pushing for the approval of the unsolicited proposal made by Primewater, said to be owned by Senator Cynthia Villar’s Group of Companies, including the announcements approving the issuance of the invitation to bid through Swiss Challenge, or matching the proposal of Primewater by other interested parties, which announcement was posted on the website of San Jose Del Monte Water District at www.sanjosewater.gov.ph, which announcement was unfortunately removed from the same website as of this writing,” Del Rosario said in her complaint. 

Del Rosario said various “circumstantial evidence’ point to the Robes couple as two persons were allegedly hired by Tagalog to testify that it was she who masterminded the water tank explosion.

Del Rosario said the two witnesses who were supposedly paid to lie by Mayor Robes eventually went to her side.

“Bago sila dumating sa Bgy. Kaypian, tumira muna sila sa farm ni mayor,” Del Rosario said in an interview after the filing of the cases.

Del Rosario also claimed that Mayor Robes announced during the flag ceremony on October 2, 2017, days before the water tank explosion, that a “big investor player” is coming in to invest in the water district of San Jose Del Monte.

Del Rosario said in her complaint that the explosion was caused by the intentional build-up of air pressure inside the tank.

“While the exit valve is closed, water from the entrance pipeline is continuously pumped into the tank so that the air inside the tank is pushed up and up until the pressure builds up to the level sufficient to burst the tank made of thin steel of aluminum alloy with a rubber interior, like a tire of a truck having rubber interior,” Del Rosario said in the complaint. 

While it was only Del Rosario who signed as the complainant, members of the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption accompanied her during the filing of the complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman.

'CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE'

The Robes couple denied Del Rosario's claim, saying their alleged participation in the incident is only "circumstantial evidence."

"It has been said by the lawyer of complainant that Mayor Arthur and Cong. Rida’s participation is thru ‘circumstantial evidence’ only. We note that such evidence is insufficient for a criminal case to prosper and any criminal complaint based on circumstantial evidence should not be given credence," the couple said in a statement.

The officials also denied involvement in the acquisition of the said water tank, since the city government does not have jurisdiction over a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).

"The City Government of San Jose del Monte has no jurisdiction over the decision of San Jose Water District as a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) to enter into a Joint Venture Agreement with the Prime Water Corporation. Thus, by reason of such separation from the local government, the LGU including the Office of Congresswoman Rida are not privy to any agreement entered into by the water district," the Robeses said.

They also claimed that Del Rosario's accusations are "nonsensical" and "absurd."

"The people of San Jose Del Monte know that Mayor Arthur and Cong. Rida have worked so hard to uplift the qualify of life of San Joseños and achieve their vision for a 'Rising City.' As such, the allegation that they were the people behind the blast in Muzon is quite nonsensical bordering on absurdity," the statement said.

"The couple’s clean track record in their public service proves that there’s no instance that they use or are capable of using and, much less, sacrifice lives of innocent people for political and personal interests. Thus, they could not have been remotely involved in said incident other than taking care of the victims and those families affected by such a tragic incident," it added.