Councilor scores Beneco anew-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Thursday, March 7, 2013
SEVERAL officials of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) refused to join the City Council session on Monday, saying they will have no chance of fairly presenting their side on various issues.
The City Council of Baguio invited Beneco to clarify matters on irregularities hurled against them, especially on its purchase of several materials used for the electrification of Balbalan town in Kalinga, which is beyond its jurisdiction.
Officials from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Presidential Action Center (PAC) and Department of Energy (DOE) were also unable to attend the Council session.
Only members of the Multi-Sectoral Advisory Council, composed mostly of village chiefs, were able to attend the session.
In a privilege speech, Councilor Fred Bagbagen addressed Balbalan town Mayor Kenneth Mangaoang, who assured that the materials sourced from the assistance of Beneco for their electrification project was fully paid by the local government.
The town mayor also said the cost of materials were fully paid even before they were delivered, adding that the town did not prejudice the interest of Beneco member-consumers because not a single centavo was spent by the public utility for Balbalan’s electrification project.
Councilor Bagbagen said documents would show that Beneco first bought the materials worth P5,957,657.75, after which Beneco demanded payment of the same through a letter dated January 4, 2012, which was signed by Randy Carolino and noted by Gerardo Verzosa himself.
Bagbagen asked the town mayor to show any proof that the municipality of Balbalan indeed gave the money to Beneco before the purchase of the materials.
He also challenged the town mayor to show proof that he was indeed authorized by the municipal council to negotiate and ask help from Beneco, and show an appropriation ordinance for the P5,957,657.75 used for the energization project.
“The fact that you paid is of no moment as the electric consumers of Beneco have already been prejudiced,” the councilor added.
Bagbagen also said documents he has belie Mangaoang’s claim that the line materials were delivered directly to Kalinga. The materials were reportedly hold from Bagbaguin, Bulacan to Alapang, La Trinidad.
“A quizzical eyebrow is raised as to why the materials precisely were not hauled directly to Balbalan, Kalinga which would cost less if the said energization project is regular,” he said.
He also said at least two Beneco directors said they are unaware of the transaction with the Kalinga town.
Bagbagen said he is pressing charges against Beneco in court by the end of March, adding that he has informed the Commission on Audit about the transactions made for the energization project.
Councilor Nicasio Palaganas, meanwhile, said Bagbagen should also look into the charges made by Beneco’s former lawyer Emiliano Gayo on the alleged violations of some of the public utility’s officials.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 07, 2013.