BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The Joint Venture Agreement between the Bacolod City Water District and Primewater Infrastructure Corp. is a legal, valid, and binding obligation and is enforceable according to its terms and conditions, BACIWA chairman Lorendo Dilag said.
Dilag made the statement in response to the call of the Baciwa Employees’ Union (BEU) for the deferment of the JVA implementation until the issue on water tariffs is explained to the public, and all requirements of the Local Water Utilities Administration are followed.
The BEU also claimed that the 12 percent value-added tax on water rates will be immediately imposed on the first day that the joint venture takes effect on November 1.
The group said that these tariff adjustments are meant to ensure that PrimeWater will be able to recover all its investments in the joint venture project, including the gratuities and financial assistance to retiring Baciwa employees.
The union urged the consumers and the officials of the city to investigate these issues.
In a statement, Dilag said Baciwa has complied with all the suggestions and recommendations of the OGCC in its contract review as affirmed by GCC Elpidio Vega on his August 6, 2020 letter to him.
The JVA is advantageous and beneficial to the employees, he said.
Dilag said that, contrary to the claim of the Union, the JVA provisions have taken care of the BACIWA employees under this project.
He said all employees, who are not included in the BACIWA workforce needed for the remaining functions of the water district, will be absorbed by Primewater without diminution of salaries and will carry with them the length of service rendered in BACIWA.
Most of the employees will receive an increased basic pay and additional benefits, especially those hired by BACIWA after December 31, 1999. Retiring employees will also be given appropriate gratuity pays as agreed in the JVA, Dilag said.
Aside from the series of employees’ assemblies and orientations, the process was individually explained to each employee, however for those who refuse to listen or understand, no amount of explanation can satisfy them, he said.
Every employee will be assured security of tenure just like in government service. No employee can be dismissed from work except for a just or authorized cause, and only after due process, he said.
Dilag said the joint venture of Baciwa with Primewater is primarily aimed to improve the services of the water district to its consumers, without abandoning its interest and that of its employees.
“We cannot please everybody but we also cannot be held captive by the minority who merely don’t want to be removed from their comfort zones,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BEU claimed that in the first year of the JVA, the value-added tax will be absorbed by PrimeWater and consumers will begin paying for it in 2021.
The employees also claimed that no public hearing was conducted to explain the joint venture, including the imposition of VAT.*