Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) Scandal

A senator blaming Gov. Joey Salceda for what ails Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) is floating a dud insinuation, according to a lawyer here who once headed Aleco's board of directors (BOD).

Recently, over dzMM Radio/TV, Sen. Serge Osmeña blamed Salceda for what ails Aleco as he announced that the Senate has approved an amendment to PD269, to authorize the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to replace the erring directors or governing boards of electric cooperatives, in lieu of the existing practice of "self-regulation."

"Obviously, Osmeña is unaware of Congress' failure to oversee the electrification program in the country. When it passed RA9136 (Electric Power Industry Reform Act, or Epira) in 2001, the electric cooperatives owed the government (through NEA) P18.1 billion in loans," said lawyer Oliver Olaybal, who once led the fight for the survival of the presently cash-strapped cooperative as head of its elected board members.

Instead of allowing the subscribers to bail out their cooperatives through stock issuance, it (Congress) decided to let the government assume the liability through Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), he added.

Hence, the government lost P18.1 billion in taxpayers' money through erroneous legislation, Olaybal recalled.

The new "amendment" to PD269 that Osmeña announced, according to him, is redundant, because PD1645 has already authorized NEA since 1979 to replace the governing boards of electric cooperatives, including the designation of acting managers and project supervisors, he added. "And, this has worked against the interest of electric cooperatives like Aleco because outgoing NEA managers and supervisors do not render exit reports or accounting reports," the lawyer said.

Due to this, he added, Aleco's financial position deteriorated and operating deficits escalated, for lack of accountability by NEA.

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