By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — After being snubbed three times in a council invitation, Baguio City Councilor Fred Bagbagen said that the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) want the public to remain in the dark and will remain unaware of its financial and technical audit covering the period of January 1 to September of 2010.
According to Bagbagen, instead of shedding light on important and relevant matters on the alleged overspending and irregularities, the Beneco sent its legal counsel, Atty. Delmar Cariño as representative last May of this year. The councilor said that Cariño’s responses were not enough.
Cariño maintains that Beneco already answered the council’s questions.
Bagbagen who is the chairman of the Council Committee on Employment, Livelihood and Cooperatives stated that the members of the city council even invited Beneco Financial and Technical rfepresentative Augusto de los Santos. He said that Beneco did not respond to the three invitations the council sent without explanation.
Bagbagen continued that the city council wanted an explanation from Beneco on the findings of an independent auditor Odsinada, Rivera & Co. on Beneco’s 2010 annual report during the 31st General Membership Assembly. It was noted in the findings that Beneco’s accumulated losses already amounted to P528,387,828 including the net loss for the year 20102 which is P42,996,762. The findings also stated that such operational performance has already impaired total assets by about 24.10% and share by 50.5%.
“Consequently, this impairment may affect the electric cooperative’s financial position, its financial performance, its equities, and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2010 and 2009,” the audit firm mentioned.
The city official stressed that the findings are alarming as the consumers are the most affected.
“Cariño admits the more than half a billion loss but glossed over it and instead of explaining and informing us of how the loss occurred and what steps Beneco is undertaking to address the problem, nonchalantly said it is business as usual, that Beneco just recently received many awards and banks are queuing up at its doorstep and begging it to secure bank loans,” stated Bagbagen. He said that it doesn’t follow the real situation and it behooves. He insist that Beneco should explain how in the first place they accumulated such big loss and how is it addressing the matter.
Bagbagen also criticized the per diems and other incentives of Beneco’s Board of Directors. He said that the P5,000 allowance for a member of the BOD per meeting is excessive violating the provision of National Electrification Administration (NEA) guidelines. He said that this practice was recommended to be stopped by NEA however Beneco management continue to grant it.
According to Bagbagen, the total board meetings per diems granted from January to September 2012 is P2,085,000 or an excess of P1,253,400 of the allowable board meeting per diems for the same period based on Beneco’s latest categorization.
Bagbagen also hit NEA for sleeping on its job. He said Beneco had no respect for its recommendations and disregarded them and yet, it is not taking any action against the former. “So what special relationship does NEA and Beneco have?” he asked.
He ended his speech in saying that the Beneco Directors whom the consumers elected never served as guardians. “Shame on us for electing them. Kung ginagawa lang nila ang trabaho nila, hindi na sana kailangan itong privilege speech. Kasi mahirap ang ganito, the damage is already done and we are just reacting,” he stated.
Members of the council passed a resolution supporting the recommendation of Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III on his resolution urging electric cooperatives to either convert into a stock cooperative under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) or to convert into a stock corporation under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Councilor Richard Cariño asked for the abolition of NEA for obstructing the CDA law. Meanwhile, Councilor Perlita Chan-Rondez recommend that criminal charges should be filed against Beneco before the Department of Justice (DOJ). # nordis.net