Corruption charges leveled vs ACWD manager, directors

ANGELES CITY – Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. has filed graft and corruption charges at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon against the manager and directors of the Angeles City Water District (ACWD) on Tuesday, November 5.

Mayor Lazatin filed the complaint against ACWD Manager Reynaldo C. Liwanag, Chairman Bernardo P. Cruz, Directors Fidelio L. Sibug, Gracela G. Munoz, Deogracias T. Sambilay III, and Hernando Angeles. 

Also included in the complaint were A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corporation President Andres M. Gatbonton, who also owns A.M. Gatbonton Ventures Corporation; and Aleth Cruz for having “conspired with the public officials.”

The respondents were charged for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act) for allowing A.M. Gatbonton Drilling Corporation to supply bulk water to the ACWD without Council approval.

Moreover, the ACWD personnel also received grave misconduct charges, violation of Sec. 7 (a) of Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees).

The complaint stemmed from the inspection of the City Government at the two private pumping stations of AM Gatbonton in Barangays Sto. Domingo and Cuayan, wherein they discovered that the said corporation is doing business of selling bulk water to the public without any permit from the City government and violation of zoning ordinance, and business tax.

Furthermore, the City Council has issued several resolutions in light on the matter, as to the legality of the operations of the said pumping stations and by whose authority that they were allowed to operate.

Among the findings of the City Council, Gatbonton was granted an authority by the ACWD Board of Directors, headed by Bernardo P. Cruz through a Notice of Award released on May 26, 2018. 

On further inquiries, it was also discovered that Gatbonton was merely leasing the land where their pumping stations are built.

The said owner/lessor of such land is Aleth Cruz, who is the daughter of Bernardo Cruz, Chairman and among the directors of ACWD.

According to Mayor Lazatin, they put the lives, health, and safety of the public at risk because the said pumping stations never went through the regulations by which the City provides to ensure that businesses operating here abide policies set by the City.