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Consumers sue LEYECO II officers for estafa, deceit

TACLOBAN CITY – Member-consumers and officers of the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Inc. (Nasecore), a movement that originated in this city, have filed a case of estafa and/or other forms of deceit against officials of the Leyte Electric Cooperative II here on Friday, December 21. 

Rodolfo Celestial, NASECORE regional coordinator, said they filed the criminal complaint at the city prosecutor’s office here at around 10:00 in the morning.

The complaint was filed by Nasecore founding chairman Petronilo Ilagan himself, Celestial, Nasecore Tacloban chapter president and former DBP manager Erlinda Butalid and Nasecore-Tacloban officers Teodulfo Cayson, Myrna T. Eñola, Jesus Gariando, Franco Baguna Sr., Emilio M. Enfectana, Primo Nalda, Luz Uy, Erlinda Almaden, and Ernesto Pedrosa.

The complainants said they are filing the complaint against former Leyeco II general manager Jerry Gwen Conde, board members Roland Hidalgo who is currently president, Reynaldo Galapon, Alan Surpia and Feliciano Elizon Jr.

They are bringing suit against the five for alleged misusing some P 70-million of the electric utility’s restricted “reinvestment fund” for other purposes than allowed by law.

The complainants base their complaint on an audit made by the National Electrification Administration on the application of the reinvestment funds for the period 2004 to 2009.

NEA found out that in 2005, the coop used P 25-million of the restricted funds to pay their power bill with the National Power Corporation and another P 45-million in 2006.

The reinvestment fund consists of 5% of the distribution charge and should only be used for the acquisition of equipment, supplies, repair, upgrade and rehab of dilapidated structures. To be able to use the funds, the EC is required to submit a plan on where it should be used and has to be approved prior to its actual release.

However, the same restricted funds were used to pay the coop’s power bill. According to NEA, such was a violation of the allowable use of the restricted funds which “shall not be used, even temporarily, for any other purpose other than” specified projects.

NEA also noted that no prior approval for the releases was sought from them “in violation of law”.

The complainants had earlier filed an administrative complaint against the same respondents at the Energy Regulatory Commissioner and ERC commissioner Maria Teresa A.R. Castañeda, in an order to the same electric cooperative officials dated September 10, 2012, asked them to explain “why no administrative penalty should be imposed” upon them “and/or criminal action”.

The complainants are asking the prosecutor’s office here to “punish” the respondents “with the full force of the law” and be charged with estafa under Article 315 par. 1(b) and/or Other Deceits under Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code. By Lalaine M. Jimenea

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