NEA finds board member guilty

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Sunday, December 8, 2013


THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) has ruled over complaints against Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) board member Benny Bomogao, finding him guilty of gross misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

The NEA found Bomogao guilty of charges hurled by complainant lawyer Emiliano Gayo in 2012, and ordered that the Beneco board member be removed from office immediately.

The NEA 12-page decision issued November 6 in Quezon City was signed by Jose Raymund Acol, alternate for chairman Carlos Petilla, and members Jose Victor Lobrigo, Wilfred Billena, Joseph Khonghun and Edita Bueno.

In his complaint, Gayo said that Bomogao committed "acts grossly inimical to the interest of Beneco and its members-consumers and causing great damages and prejudice to them, in connection with the purchase by Beneco of the lots situated in South Drive."

Gayo cited the sale of the South Drive being undervalued, undeclared and understated, causing harm to the reputation of the cooperative and the consumers.

"Damage to the goodwill of Beneco who has been subjected to public ridicule to the purchase of the South Drive property claimed to have been made under scandalous circumstances," the lawyer stated in his complaint.

Gayo submitted his complaint to Beneco board and the NEA. He asked for the dismissal of Bonogao as well as the return of P11,924,920 to the cooperative.

"As a lawyer, the respondent is expected to the repercussions and implications of understanding the purchase price which forms the basis for the imposition of the correct taxes due to the government. The respondent himself actively espoused the approval of escrow agreement showing the total contract price. Yet, the purchase price indicated in the deed of sale does not reflect the total contract price," the NEA ruled.

"The actual purchase price of the property [South Drive Lot] approved and paid by Beneco is P183,448,200, the price in the Deed of Absolute Sale executed and signed for Beneco by then Beneco vice president Atty. Benny Bomogao, was undervalued and and undeclared/understated at P85,000,000 without the prior knowledge and consent of the Beneco Management and/or Board of Directors," Gayo said in his complaint.

To which the NEA ruled, "The respondent ought to have been guided by prudence in his dealings, so as not to put his principal in the precarious situation Beneco has found itself in after the assessment and payment in protest of deficiency of taxes."

"The filing of the criminal charges for violation of National Internal Revenue Code against officials of the Beneco has placed the electric cooperative in a bad light, notwithstanding its full payment of the total purchase price," the administrator added.

Meanwhile, Bomogao is set to appeal the NEA decision to sack him from the electric cooperative.

"My course of action would be to seek a reconsideration of the decision or appeal even if I have one year left from my term. Meantime, I have to abide and respect NEA's decision pending final conclusion," Bomogao told Sun.Star Baguio.

"I performed my responsibility the best way I could as a duly authorized Beneco signatory and did not find anything wrong with the documents I signed. If there was defect in the documents or other course of action that should have been done, I was limited by the authority vested in me by the Board. I did not exceed my authority," the lawyer stressed.

He said he respect the decision of the NEA, but stressed that he was "correct in signing the Deed of Absolute Sale as well as the Escrow Agreement because I was duly authorized through Board Resolution No. 94-2009 by the Beneco board."

He said that he and "other members of the Board who officially travelled with me, purposely to attend and witness the scheduled signing, have read the documents before I signed as duly authorized signatory for Beneco. I should have been out from this controversy had not the board authorized me."

Bomogao further asserted his innocence, saying, "I maintain that the amount of P85 million stated in the Deed of Absolute Sale which BDO prepared only speaks of the true and correct amount which Beneco paid to BDO, being the sole party-seller in the deed of sale as well as registered owner of the property. The balance of the consideration in the amount of P98 million plus was released and paid by Escrow Bank-Development Bank of the Philippines to Ramon Jacinto pursuant to the Escrow Agreement where Beneco was also a party. It must be taken into account that Ramon Jacinto filed a case against BDO questioning the foreclosure of the property. To end the controversy, the parties entered into a compromise and agreed to such amounts of consideration of their respective interests on the property. There could be no transfer of the property to Beneco if Jacinto's claim will not be settled."

He said the failure to withhold the taxes corresponding to the amount released to Ramon Jacinto, which caused the Bureau of Internal Revenue to assess Beneco of deficiency taxes, was not his fault.

"Beneco paid but under protest because in the Escrow Agreement all taxes for the transfer of the property was chargeable to the account of Ramon Jacinto," Bomogao said.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 09, 2013.

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