The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board of directors approved yesterday the omnibus settlement agreement that resolves many issues that CUC and the Commonwealth Ports Authority have been wrangling about for almost a decade.
That came about after over three hours of executive session that was attended by CUC chair Miranda V. Manglona, vice chair Weston Deleon Guerrero, director Jovita Paulino, and Commonwealth Development Authority board chair Ike Perez. CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds was later called in to the executive session and the CUC board signed the agreement.
In a later interview, CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho said that getting the agreement worked out and finally approved has been an eight-year process.
King-Hinds said in a separate interview that the signing of the agreement settles a close- to-10-years dispute between CPA and CUC with regard to construction and access to water wells and water charges back billing.
“Settling this dispute is not about who’s right. It’s about doing the right thing for the people,” King-Hinds said.
Camacho said he believes that they finally came to a point where both agencies agree that it’s beneficial to settle their disputes.
Camacho said a lot of matters involved had to be discussed among the CUC and CPA directors, who feel that the agreement is beneficial to both agencies.
King-Hinds said agencies of the government may have their own interests and objectives, but all are interconnected by the people they serve. Ultimately, if they don’t settle the dispute and the issue end up in court, the only people who will win are the lawyers, King-Hinds said.
“CUC stepped up to the plate today to meet us halfway and that’s a win-win for the public we serve,” she added.
The signatories of the agreement are King-Hinds, CPA executive director Chris Tenorio, Manglona, and Camacho. CPA legal counsel Robert T. Torres and Attorney General Edward Manibusan are also signatories. Assistant attorney general Jose Mafnas appeared as counsel for CUC.
In an interview Thursday last week, Manibusan said his office had reviewed the settlement agreement and determined that there are no legal issues affecting it.
Last June 18, the CPA board approved the draft CUC-CPA omnibus agreement with some conditions.
The terms of the agreement would basically give CUC permanent easement for use and access to 67 water wells that are on CPA premises; the existing CUC water line transporting the water from the well to the CUC island system; CPA’s 20-million-gallon water tank; and the CUC sand filtration system on CPA’s premises.
Under the terms of the agreement, CUC will maintain the water wells easement. This will provide CPA with continuous water supply from the water resources on its (CPA) premises free of charge.
CPA will pay for sewerline charges at a flat rate.
CPA will pay CUC the sum of $7.2 million as a settlement amount for the disputed water charges and penalty.