Allegations of Beneco irregularities exposed... Again-A A +A
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
THE members of the City Council on Monday listened raptly as one of their colleagues, City Councilor Fred Bagbagen, once again delivered a privileged speech revealing and identifying alleged anomalous transactions conducted by Beneco thru its general manager Gerardo Versoza.
In his speech entitled "A Tale of Two Electric Cooperatives, A Second Hand Printing Press and the Gross Incompetence of the National Electrification Administration," councilor Bagbagen lambasted Beneco anew for allegedly undertaking transactions deemed inimical to the interest of the member consumers of the said cooperative.
In assailing Beneco and its General Manager Gerardo Versoza, Bagbagen disclosed to the august body that sometime in October up to December of last year the said power utility made several purchases using Beneco funds in the amount of more than 5 million pesos for the ostensible purpose of an energization project in Balbalan, Kalinga, well beyond the scope and jurisdiction of the utility’s franchise. Concerned about the propriety of such a transaction Bagbagen raised several questions which he believes should be answered and clarified by the Beneco board of directors as well as the general manager. For the Beneco board the alderman posited the query of whether the Board of Directors authorized the energization project of the Municipality of Balbalan, Kalinga even though said place is within the territorial jurisdiction of another electric cooperative( Kalinga Electric Cooperative). He also queried the board asking that assuming a board resolution was indeed passed to authorize the project is it not an ultra-vires act considering that it is outside its territorial jurisdiction and given the fact that there are still many areas in the province of Benguet which remains without electricity. Also, Councilor Bagbagen is asking the Board of Directors of BENECO that even assuming the regularity and legality of the energization contract with the Municipality of Balbalan, Kalinga, and considering that it has already made advance payments for the purpose, did it ever benefit the consumer-members of Beneco?
For the general manager of Beneco, Mr. Gerardo Versoza, Councilor Bagbagen raised the issue of the legal basis upon which said manager entered into a contract for the energization project of Balbalan, Kalinga. Bagbagen is also asking the general manager why the latter allowed the use of Beneco funds for the advance payments of materials to be used allegedly by the municipality of Balbalan even if the latter is well outside or beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Beneco. Bagbagen went further by raising the issue of whether the said energization project of the municipality of Balbalan, Kalinga really exists or is it merely a ghost project and the materials diverted to a private subdivision.
In the second part of his privilege speech, Councilor Bagbagen also questioned the purchase by Beneco of a second hand printing press in the amount of 2.5 million pesos with the alleged insistence of the general manager even though the said power utility is allegedly oozing with money. Bagbagen also revealed that the said second hand printing press was purchased without the authority of the Board of Directors and that the deed of absolute sale was signed merely by the general services officer Mr. Randy Carolino. He emphasized that the document entitled “Confirmation (of the authority of Mr. Randy Carolino to sign the deed of sale for the purchase of two heidelbert offset printing press machines), signed by the general manager and the president of Beneco cannot take the place of a board resolution. He surmised thus that the process adopted was simply to cover up procurement violations.
Finally, Councilor Bagbagen in his privilege speech also charged the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for incompetence saying that these abuses allegedly committed by Beneco could not have materialized if the latter had been doing its job as a watchdog of the cooperatives under its wing.
The councilor ended his speech by challenging the august body that if Beneco and NEA see nothing, say nothing, and hear nothing, should they (city council) allow Beneco to flounder and hit the rocks.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 06, 2013.