Lawyer wants heads of top 2 NEA officials
MANILA, Philippines—A lawyer has asked the Ombudsman to suspend two top officials of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the head of the the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) pending the investigation of plunder charges filed against them in connection with a yearlong blackout in the southern province.
Lawyer Bayan G. Balt sought the preventive suspension of NEA Administrator Edita S. Bueno and auditor Digno Tumbokon, and Lasureco General Manager Ashary Maongco, saying they could influence the plunder case filed against them by 22 mayors of Lanao del Sur whose towns have been struggling with a power shortage since Lasureco cut off its supply a year ago.
Balt, a lawyer of one of mayor-complainants, also urged the Ombudsman to speed up its investigation of the case to spare Lanao del Sur from the blackout in the province which has persisted despite an order by the Marawi City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to restore power more than a week ago.
“We appeal for compassion and for the greater good of many people residing in Lanao del Sur who are in total darkness after their power supply was cut off. The people have been suffering from this serious problem because the delivery of basic services is being derailed by the power crisis. We should not deprive them of economic growth,” said Balt in a statement.
Last week, the 22 mayors representing 32 Lanao del Sur towns filed a plunder case against against Bueno, Tumbokon and Maongco of plunder, alleging the officers did not explain its disbursement of its P190 million barangay electrification fund and P25 million of the government’s Pantawid Kuryente program. The mayors also want an explanation for the officers’ alleged failure to remit P603 million in electricity bill payments collected from consumers in the province from 2007 to 2012 to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Balt said Lasureco’s “fiscal mismanagement” was to blame its P6.2 billion in debt to the PSALM. He also claimed that for the last 15 years, Lasureco’s board of directors were appointed and not elected, ostensibly a deal with the NEA.
As this developed, the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday decided to indict local government officials of San Sebastian, Samar for failing to remit to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) premium payments from 2008 to 2012.
The Ombudsman found sufficient evidence to file chrages against Mayor Arnold Abalos, Municipal Treasurer Virginia Uy, and Municipal Accountant Pepita Mabini, for 40 counts of violation of Section 5C of the GSIS Act representing 40 months of unremitted GSIS premiums amounting to P7.633 million.
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