BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The terminated employees of the Bacolod City Water District staged a protest noontime yesterday in front of the Baciwa office in Bacolod City demanding for their immediate reinstatement after the Civil Service Commission Region VI favored their cause.
The CSC Region VI recently upheld its earlier decision denying the motion for reconsideration filed by the members of the Board of Directors of Baciwa in the case filed against them by the 59 terminated Baciwa employees, for lack of merit.
The employees led by union president Leni Espina filed the case when they were terminated in 2020 after Baciwa finalized its joint venture agreement (JVA) with Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. (PrimeWater).
The employees issued a statement yesterday welcoming the October 27 decision of the CSC and implored the Baciwa BOD and those supportive of the JVA to respect the CSC’s resolution which include compensation for their damages and losses, and their reinstatement to their positions, ranks and jobs within the water utility firm.
They said compensatory payments to the affected employees should be shouldered by the persons involved in their termination, not through the water utility funds, of which Baciwa’s consumers finance a large part.
Espina said the Baciwa BOD should respect the CSC decision and reinstate them immediately. They cannot declare their positions redundant according to the CSC.
They will continue to hold protests until they attain victory, she added.
Rey Gorgonio, one of the legal counsels of the Baciwa employees, said the terminated employees should be reinstated immediately, especially so that Baciwa consumers are the ones greatly affected by reason of their termination.
Under the CSC Revised Rules on Administrative Cases, the Baciwa BOD has a remedy to file a petition for review before the CSC Central Office to assail the decision of the CSC VI. That is their procedural right. But the more they delay the case, the more this will prolong the suffering of the employees, he said.
Gorgonio said the Office of the Mayor has the power under the Local Government Code to deal with this matter. Hope the mayor will look into this matter immediate and promptly.
He has the power to appoint the members of the Baciwa BOD and the power to recall their appointment. So, they are challenging him to recall the appointments of the BOD, to institute the nullification or recession of the JVA and takeover the Baciwa to save the consumers of Bacolod City. Otherwise, they will mobilize the consumers, as well as the 59 employees to use this issue against him in the coming election, he said.
They will also be filing a petition to have the JVA between Baciwa and Prime Water be declared null and void before the local court, Gorgonio said.
Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. said it is the Baciwa BOD who should pay for the terminated employees’ back wages and not the consumers.
Their lawyers should file a petition for the immediate execution of the CSC order pending appeal and also file a motion for the Baciwa BOD to file bonds so whatever happens to them, there will be funds to pay for the terminated employees’ back wages, he said.
Cesar Beloria said that he together with the other members of legal team of the terminated employees will try their best to see to it that the Baciwa BOD should be made to pay for this responsibility.*