Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NEA begins probe of Zamboanga City's power cooperative

A lineman of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative repairs a street pole in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 19, 2011) – The National Electrification Administration has began its probe Wednesday on alleged anomalies in the heavily indebted Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative.

A lawyer sent by National Electrification Administration to Zamboanga City said the cooperative’s board of directors headed by Rolando Gregorio; and its general manager, Reynerio Ramos, have to answer all accusations against them.

The cooperative has been the center of controversy since last year after it purchased second-hand band equipment and sound system worth more than one million pesos. It said the equipment would be used for the cooperatives important occasions and events.

It also borrowed money from local banks to purchase millions of pesos worth of utility and luxury vehicles for its managers and workers. It said the purchases were approved by the cooperative’s board of directors.

The local electric cooperative had purchased at least 36 vehicles, mostly from the Korean car maker Kia Motors, and was reportedly overpriced. It was unknown whether Kia Motors gave out commissions for the purchases.

Local business and civil groups, and politicians questioned the extravagant spending of the power firm despite its ballooning debts which is now one billion pesos.

The power firm was also criticized after announcing that it would increase electric rates and pass on to consumers the millions of its unpaid taxes charged by the local government.

Electric consumers have been complaining about the high cost of power rates and asked the National Electrification Administration to investigate the purchases and other dealings of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative.

Ramos and Gregorio and the cooperative’s board of director have repeatedly denied all allegations against them and said all their transactions were legal and sanctioned by the National Electrification Administration.

But the National Electrification Administration has denied this and installed Engineer Jesus Castro as Project Supervisor to oversee the operation of the cooperative. (Mindanao Examiner)

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