By Francis Allan L. Angelo


SOME of the major protagonists in the alleged bribery of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board of directors will not attend the public hearing initiated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in Sara, Iloilo today (May 19, 2009).


The probe, which was triggered by a privilege speech of 5th district Board Member Jett Rojas, is spearheaded by the committee on economic affairs and investments chaired by 3rd district BM Arthur Defensor Jr.


The investigation will focus on the alleged bribery of the Ileco board in exchange for the approval of a 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) with Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).


Last May 5, former judge Mateo Baldoza claimed in an interview with Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo that Governor Niel Tupas gave him an envelope containing P75,000 during a meeting with Artech officials April 17 at Tupas’ house in MV Henchanova, Jaro, Iloilo City.


Another envelope containing P75,000 was also given to Baldoza by a female Artech employee April 21, the same day the board approved and signed the PSA.


Baldoza, however, later modified his statement saying it was not Tupas who gave him money during the April 17 meeting but a female Artech worker.


Baldoza and Tupas will not attend the SP hearing today “because of prior commitments”.


Tupas said he will send a letter to Defensor explaining why he cannot show up at the hearing.


Baldoza is said to be attending the wedding of his son in Cagayan de Oro City.


The committee also invited 5th district Rep. Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas Jr. but the latter declined.


Mayor Raul Tupas of Barotac Viejo, which is under Ileco 3 franchise, will send a representative to the hearing.


Those who confirmed to attend the hearing are Presidential Adviser Raul Banias, Ileco 3 management team headed by Dory Joy Canones, Ileco 3 directors and 5th district mayors.


Engr. Reynaldo Uy, Artech president, will also attend.


Representatives of Global Business Power Corp. and Panay-Guimaras power consortium were also invited to the SP hearing.


Tupas had denied bribing the Ileco directors although he confirmed the meeting between the board and Artech at his house.


Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said Tupas had indeed arranged the meeting to expedite the deal between Ileco 3 and Artech to avert a looming power crisis.


Tupas said he favored the PSA because Ileco 3’s transition supply agreement with the National Power Corp. will expire in December 2010. The governor said he wants to address the looming power shortage in Ileco which covers the 5th district.


Uy also denied the alleged bribe saying he did not bring with him any female employee to the April 17 meeting at Tupas’ house.


Uy said their proposal to put up a 5-megawatt diesel-fired power plant and a 5-MW biomass power plant will solve the power crisis in Ileco 3 and provide livelihood to consumers.


The Artech official said his company will also construct a P30-million power substation to connect Ileco 3 to his plants.


Uy said his company does not engage in bribery even as he suspects that business and politics could be behind the issue.