ANGELES CITY – The general manager of the Angeles City Water District (ACWD) and its entire board of directors are now in hot water following corruption charges filed by Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” G. Lazatin, Jr. at the Ombudsman on Tuesday.
Lazatin personally filed the complaint against ACWD general manager Reynaldo C. Liwanag, BOD chair Bernardo P. Cruz and directors Fidelio L. Sibug, Gracela G. Munoz, Deogracias T. Sambilay III, and Hernando Angeles at the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon.
Also included in the complaint were Andres M. Gatbonton, president of A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corp. who is also the owner of A.M. Gatbonton Ventures Corp., and a certain Aleth Cruz for allegedly conspiring with the public officials.
The respondents were charged for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allowing A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corp. to supply bulk water to the ACWD without the approval of the city council.
Charges of grave misconduct were also filed against the respondents for violation of Sec. 7 (a) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees.
The city government discovered upon inspection at the two private pumping stations in barangays Sto. Domingo and Cuayan that AM Gatbonton is allegedly doing business of selling bulk water to the public without any permit from the city government, in violation of zoning ordinance, and not paying business tax.
Earlier, Councilor Jesus “Jay” Sangil filed SP Resolution No. 243-10- 19 urging Lazatin to terminate the ACWD BOD.
Councilor Alfie Bonifacio joined Sangil in urging the mayor to replace the entire BOD citing various irregularities and the failure to resolve the water crisis in several barangays of the city.
Among the findings of the city council was that Gatbonton was allegedly granted an authority by the ACWD BOD through a Notice of Award released on May 26, 2018.
It was also discovered that Gatbonton was merely leasing the land where their pumping stations are built. The property is reportedly owned by Aleth Cruz, the daughter of BOD chair Bernardo Cruz.
According to Lazatin, the respondents placed the lives, health and safety of the public at risk because the said pumping stations never went through the standard regulations.