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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) board president Mateo Baldoza, a former court judge, has no credibility, according to Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr.

This was Tupas’ reaction to Baldoza’s admission that the governor gave him an envelope with cash inside to favor independent power producer, Applied Research Technologies Phils. Inc., (Artech).

The alleged bribery, Baldoza told the National Electrification Administration investigating committee, happened April 17 during a meeting with Artech officials at Tupas’ mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Tupas said in an interview with Bombo Radyo that Baldoza has no credibility because he kept changing his statements.

“At first he claimed that I gave him money then denied it. Now, he is saying that I did it. He always changes his story. He has no more credibility,” Tupas said.

The governor said Baldoza is the only person claiming that there was bribery in the Ileco 3-Artech deal while the other directors have nothing to say.

Tupas said Baldoza is being used by persons who want to besmirch his name and reputation as the 2010 election period nears.

“The election fever is here and these are just efforts by some groups to malign me. I pity Baldoza,” he said.

Tupas had admitted summoning Ileco 3 and Artech officials to a meeting in his house to discuss the looming power crisis in the cooperative’s franchise area.

But the governor denied handing out money to the Ileco 3 directors.

Baldoza: Tupas gave me envelope with cash 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

A RETIRED judge and president of the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board finally admitted receiving money from Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. to favor an independent power producer.

Mateo Baldoza confirmed his first statement over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo last May 5 that Tupas handed him an envelope filled with cash during a meeting with officials of Applied Research Technologies Phils. (Artech).

Baldoza made the admission during the hearing yesterday conducted by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) investigation committee on the alleged bribery issue involving Artech and Ileco 3 officials.

The hearing was held at the Ileco 1 main office in Tigbauan, Iloilo Tuesday to look into allegations that Artech handed cash to the directors to approve the 25-year power supply agreement the firm offered to the cooperative.

Baldoza spilled the beans on Artech and Tupas during the examination conducted by Atty. Ramil Naciongayo, counsel for the complainants Gerardo P. Panes and Evelyn P. Peñaflor who called for the NEA probe.

According to Baldoza, he and the Ileco 3 directors were called to a meeting with Artech officials led by president Reynaldo Uy at Tupas’ mansion in MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17, 2009.

Baldoza said Tupas called him inside a room of the mansion where the latter gave him an envelope while telling him to help Artech.

The retired judge later learned that the envelope contained P75,000 cash when he got home from the meeting.

He also confirmed that he received another envelope with P75,000 cash after their board meeting April 21, the day they approved the power supply deal with Artech.

In sum, Baldoza received P150,000 cash from Artech. Uy and Tupas had denied Baldoza’s allegations.

Aksyon Radyo anchorman Joel Tormon also testified before the AdCom relative to his May 5 interview with Baldoza.

Tormon said he confirmed the authenticity of the transcript of his interview with Baldoza which was admitted as evidence in the NEA probe.

Tormon said Baldoza’s statements during the NEA hearing were the same information and sequence of events the latter told during the May 5 interview with Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo.

A day after his interview with Tormon, Baldoza modified his statement in a local newspaper saying a woman employee of Artech gave the cash-laden envelope during the meeting at Tupas’ mansion.

But he again hinted that the governor gave him the cash-filled envelope when he faced the probe conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

In his affidavit submitted to the NEA AdCom last August, Baldoza said he received the cash-filled envelope from someone during the meeting at Tupas’s mansion.

Baldoza said that after eating at Tupas’s house, he was called inside the living room where that “someone” thrust the envelope in his hand.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MEMBERS of the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board of directors have until next month to answer allegations that they were bribed to approve a 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) with an independent power producer (IPP).

The Administration Committee (AdCom) of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) gave the directors until September 12 to submit their position papers as regards the bribery yarn.

Atty. Xerxes D. Adzuara, NEA AdCom chair, set the deadline after the preliminary hearing conducted at Ileco 3 head office in Sara, Iloilo Thursday morning.

The hearing began around 9am until past 10am and was attended by the Ileco 3 board headed by former Judge Mateo Baldoza, Rene Arandilla, Emmanuel Pacardo, Azur Salcedo, Achilles Pama and Vincent Francis Espinosa.

The directors were aided by their legal counsels Edison Belloga and Joseph Anthony Lutero.

Instead of a full blown hearing, the directors asked the AdCom that they will just submit their position papers.

Adzuara said they will make their recommendation to NEA Administrator Editha Bueno a month after the Ileco 3 directors submitted their position papers.

“If they don’t submit their position papers, this case will be submitted for decision to the NEA board meeting,” he added.

The NEA investigated the Ileco 3 board due to the complaints filed by two consumers following Baldoza’s exposé that he received P150,000 from Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. and officials of Applied Research Technologies Philippines, Inc. (Artech).

The money, Baldoza said in his interview with Aksyon Radyo last May 5, was meant to facilitate the approval of the PSA with Artech which NEA recommended to be rescinded due to alleged onerous provisions.

 

SOMEONE?

But in his sworn affidavit which he made available yesterday, Baldoza pulled back his punches.

Baldoza said that he received from “someone” last April 17 an envelope containing P75,000 during a meeting with Artech officials at the house of Gov. Tupas in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Baldoza said that after eating at Tupas’s house, he was called inside the living room where “someone” thrust the envelope in his hand.

In his May 5 interview, the former judge said Tupas handed him the money. But he changed his tune in another interview May 6 saying a female Artech employee gave him the money at Tupas’s house.

He again hinted that the governor gave him the cash-filled envelope when he faced the probe conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo yesterday, Baldoza said he revealed the persons behind the alleged bribery to the NBI. He will also detail what happened at the governor’s house in his position paper to the NEA.

Aside from the April 17 meeting in Tupas’s house, Baldoza also claimed that he received another P75,000 from an Artech employee during their special board meeting in Iloilo City last April 21.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

LOCAL government units and consumers of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 will continue to push for the ouster of the cooperative’s board of directors amidst allegations of bribery in the power supply agreement (PSA) it signed with an independent power producer.

This, even as the National Electrification Administration (NEA) is set to conduct a preliminary investigation on the bribery, according to Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias.

Banias said he received information from Metro Manila that members of the NEA administrative will arrive over the weekend or next week to start the preliminary probe on the Ileco 3 board.

NEA officials did not respond to queries to verify the schedule of the preliminary investigation.

The investigation is in keeping with the recommendations of NEA Legal Department chief Omar Mayo to investigate the board for allegedly receiving money from Applied Research Technologies Philippines Incorporated (Artech) in exchange for the approval of the 25-year PSA.

Mayo, who headed the NEA fact-finding team that looked into the deal, also recommended the rescission of the agreement for its onerous provisions.

Banias said they are also moving for the ouster of the Ileco 3 board and the eventual junking of the PSA.

Banias said the consumers of Ileco 3 and local government units within the cooperative’s area are supportive of the move.

While they respect the NEA probe, Banias said “the resignation of the entire board is the most honorable thing the directors could do.”

“Instead of waiting for any humiliation, they might as well quit their posts,” he added.

The alleged bribery was exposed when Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza confirmed in an interview with Aksyon Radyo last May 5 that he received P150,000 from Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas and Artech officials last July 17 and 21.

Baldoza said he received P75,000 from Tupas during a meeting with Artech officials in the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City. Another P75,000 was handed to Baldoza by a female Artech employee during their special board meeting in a hotel in Iloilo City.

But Tupas and Artech President Reynaldo Uy had denied Baldoza’s allegations.

The NEA, upon recommendation of the fact-finding team, had “deactivated” the Ileco 3 board by assigning project supervisor Eduardo Adlao pending the investigation on the PSA.

Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) has virtually stripped the board of directors of Ileco 3 of all the powers to run the cooperative.

Effective yesterday, Danny Sedoyo of the NEA Institutional Department and Eddie Adlao of the Management Accounts Group took over the board’s functions in Ileco 3.

Sedoyo and Adlao were designated as project supervisors of Ileco 3 following allegations of bribery in the power supply agreement (PSA) between the cooperative and an independent power producer.

NEA Administrator Edita Bueno, through the two supervisors, also designated Engr. Antonio Lazarraga as OIC-general manager of the cooperative.

Lazarraga also heads Ileco 3’s Technical Services Department.

Sedoyo and Adlao reported to Ileco 3 office in Sara, Iloilo yesterday morning and met the management team.

The supervisors were designated to oversee Ileco 3 operations upon recommendation of NEA Legal Department chief Omar Mayo. 

Mayo headed the NEA fact-finding team which initially probed the alleged bribery in the 25-year PSA between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc (ARTECH).

NEA Deputy Administrator Edgardo Piamonte said the two supervisors will handle Ileco 3 operations, particularly disbursement of funds and signing of contracts.

“They will act overseers of the cooperative while we investigate other issues such as the power supply deal. Every transaction of the cooperative must pass scrutiny of NEA through the supervisors,” Mr. Piamonte said.

Starting Thursday, only Adlao and Lazarraga can sign checks and disburse Ileco 3 funds. The board of directors will only act advisory board and will have no power to decide on the cooperative’s affairs.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Lazarraga said it will be business as usual at Ileco 3 and there will be no movement of personnel for the meantime.

Mayo said in his report dated June 5, 2009 that there was “undue haste, aggravated by bribery, in the signing of the said PSA, totally disregarding the findings of the very own technical personnel of Ileco 3.”

The fact-finding team based its findings and recommendations on the statements of Mateo Baldoza, Ileco 3 board president, who alleged that he received P150,000 from a politician and ARTECH.

Baldoza, a retired trial court judge, said he first received P75,000 from Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas on April 17, 2009 and another P75,000 from a female ARTECH employee on April 21, 2009.

Tupas and ARTECH President Reynaldo Uy denied the alleged bribery. Tupas said he only wanted to assure Ileco 3’s power supply as its supply contract with the National Power Corp. will expire next year.

Baldoza later modified his statement saying a female ARTECH worker gave him the money on April 17 at Tupas’ house.

The former judge lately went back to his initial statement after facing the National Bureau of Investigation which is also probing the alleged bribery.

Rene Arandilla, Ileco 3 director, claimed in his sworn affidavit that he saw and counted the money which Baldoza received last April 21, the day the supply deal was approved and signed.

Mayo also recommended the conduct of a formal investigation on the alleged bribery based on the notarized complaint of two Ileco 3 consumers, Gerardo P. Panes and Evelyn P. Peñaflor. 

He also recommended that the board of directors be preventively suspended pending the probe.

Piamonte said the NEA Administration Committee headed by Energy Sec. Angelo Reyes will convene to order the investigation by the NEA Legal Department.  

Mayo recommended the rescission of the Ileco 3-ARTECH power supply deal “for being grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to its interests, as well as that of its consumers-members.”

Domingo Beltran, ARTECH vice president, said they will sue NEA and Ileco 3 if the power supply deal is rescinded.

Arandilla said they will follow NEA orders and wait for the agency’s action and moves on the alleged bribery.

“The supervisors will only be around for 100 days until the issue has been settled. We will follow whatever NEA wants,” Arandilla said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) might release next week its recommendation on the controversial power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 and an independent power producer.

 

Atty. Omar Mayo, who headed the NEA fact-finding team, said they have finished their investigation on the deal between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc (Artech).

 

Mayo said they will soon forward their recommendations to NEA Administrator Edita Bueno.

 

“The recommendations and actions of the NEA board of administrators might be out next week,” he said.

 

Mayo said their investigation focused on the PSA between Ileco 3 and Artech allegedly tainted with bribery as claimed by former Judge Mateo Baldoza, Ileco 3 board president.

 

Mayo said part of their evidence is the May 5 interview of Baldoza with Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo.

 

Baldoza claimed in the said interview that Governor Niel Tupas Sr. handed him an envelope containing P75,000 cash during a meeting between Ileco 3 and Artech officials April 17 at the governor’s mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City. 

 

Baldoza said he received another envelope containing P75,000 cash from a female Artech employee during the Ileco 3 board meeting in Iloilo City last April 21.

 

Mayo said they also included the sworn affidavit of Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla who corroborated Baldoza’s claim.

 

Arandilla said Baldoza showed him the envelope he allegedly received from the Artech employee last July 21.

 

Arandilla said he counted P75,000 cash inside the envelope. Baldoza later told him to get P10,000 because he will give the rest to the church but Arandilla refused.

 

Arandilla said he was not present in the meeting at Tupas’ house although he received information that money changed hands during the gathering.

 

After the May 5 interview, Baldoza modified his statement by denying that Tupas gave him money during the April 17 meeting with Artech officials.

 

Last Monday, Baldoza appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which is investigating the deal due to the complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers.

 

Baldoza said he told NBI investigator Arnold Diaz the actual events surrounding the PSA, particularly the money and pressure they received from Tupas and Artech.

 

Baldoza said his statements to the NBI are similar to his May 5 interview with Aksyon Radyo and revelations to Presidential Assistant Raul Banias.

 

Atty. Norberto Posecion, Baldoza’s legal counsel and former classmate, said the ex-judge made an affidavit relative to the Ileco 3-Artech deal “but he has yet to sign it.”

 

Posecion said the content of the affidavit were similar to Baldoza’s first statement regarding the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

 

“I told him to make sure that everything he wrote in the affidavit is true to avoid any complication,” Posecion said.

Baldoza pinning down Tupas?

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHAT did former Judge Mateo Baldoza tell the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) relative to the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric (Ileco) 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech)?

 

“I told the truth,” said Baldoza, Ileco 3 board of directors president, when asked about his meeting with NBI investigator Arnold Diaz.

 

Baldoza said he cannot give the full details of his testimony to the NBI “because it is confidential.”

 

Baldoza said what he told NBI is the same thing he told Presidential Assistant Raul Banias and other persons regarding the April 17 meeting with Artech officials at the house of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

Banias earlier told The Daily Guardian that Baldoza informed him about the pressure and the P75,000 cash he received from Tupas, obviously to grease the approval of the PSA between Ileco 3 and Artech.

 

Baldoza also told Banias about the second P75,000 he received from an Artech employee during the Ileco 3 board meeting in Iloilo City last April 21.

 

The former judge also told Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo last May 5 about the money he received from Tupas and Artech on those two separate occasions. But Baldoza modified his statement a day later saying a female Artech worker gave the money at Tupas’ house.

 

Tupas had denied giving money to Baldoza although he and provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada admitted that Ileco 3 directors met Artech president Reynaldo Uy at the governor’s house April 17.

 

Tupas and Mejorada said Baldoza has “no credibility” because he kept changing his statement regarding the alleged bribery of Ileco 3 directors.

 

The governor said he only intervened to avert a looming power shortage in Ileco 3 franchise area when its transition supply contract with the National Power Corp. expires next year.

 

Ileco 3 legal counsel Edison Belloga also denied the bribery angle even as he defended the PSA to be advantageous and environment friendly.

 

Banias said he met Baldoza after the latter’s visit to the NBI regional office.

 

“He told me that what he narrated to the NBI was the same as his original statement in an interview with Aksyon Radyo and the information he told me before the issue on the Ileco 3-Artech deal came out in the media,” Banias said.

 

Banias said Baldoza was not able to sign his affidavit narrating the April 17 and 21 meetings “because his lawyer was not present during the meeting at the NBI.”

 

Atty. Diaz, who is in-charged of the investigation, said Baldoza’s statement was substantial to their probe but he declined give details.

 

Banias said Baldoza is also willing to narrate to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) the events leading to the signing and approval of the PSA.

 

“NEA is about to finish its investigation as they already gathered all the facts they need. But the investigators are willing to talk to Judge Baldoza and get his side of the story,” he said.

 

DEATH THREATS

 

Meanwhile, Banias claimed receiving death threats relative to the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

 

Banias said a friend passed to him a text message from an unidentified sender saying that the former will die before June 5.

 

When asked if he still has the threatening message, Banias said he cannot locate the text in his cellphone.

 

“It may have something to do with the Ileco 3 issue because June 5 was supposed to be the schedule of the next hearing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the issue. I did not mind it and I did not report it to the police because I also have my own bodyguards,” Banias said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE whistleblower of the alleged bribery in the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 and an independent power producer appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Monday to shed light on the controversy.

 

Former Judge Mateo Baldoza, president of Ileco 3 board of directors, went to the office of Atty. Arnold Diaz around 10am yesterday.

 

Diaz is in charge of the NBI probe on the deal between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

Diaz said they summoned Baldoza after receiving complaints from two Ileco 3 consumers last June 1.

 

Diaz refused to identify the complainants as they have yet to be summoned by the NBI.

 

Baldoza sported a wide smile when he went out of the backdoor of the NBI regional office. He quickly rode his car, an indication that he was not inclined to talk to the media.

 

Diaz said Baldoza is the first resource person they invited as they started their probe.

 

“His initial statements are substantial enough for our investigation but we will not reveal the details until we have completed our data gathering. We will still invite other resource persons,” Diaz said.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, Baldoza said he told the NBI the same thing he told Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias and other personalities in the 5th congressional district.

Banias earlier said that Baldoza told him about the pressure and money he received from Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. in exchange for the approval of the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

Diaz said they will collate facts surrounding the Ileco 3-Artech deal before they determine the culpability of persons involved in the controversy.

 

Baldoza claimed in an interview with Aksyon Radyo last May 5 that he received an envelope containing P75,000 from Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. during a meeting with Artech officials at the governor’s mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

 

Baldoza also claimed in the same interview that a female Artech employee gave him another envelope with P75,000 in a hotel in Iloilo City April 21, the same day they approved and signed the PSA with Artech.   All in all, he got a total of P150,000.

 

But the former judge modified his statement saying it was a female Artech employee in black clothes who gave the money to him in Tupas’ mansion.

 

Diaz said bribery might not figure in the Ileco 3-Artech issue because the cooperative and its directors who allegedly received money are private individuals and entity.

 

“Bribery can only exist if you give money or favors to government officials in the exercise of their function. In this case, Ileco 3 is a private entity,” Diaz said.

 

Diaz said officials who were involved in the alleged bribery might be charged with violation of Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act “but we will determine first who are really involved in this case.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. questioned the credibility of the whistle blower of the alleged bribery that attended the power supply deal between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 and an independent power producer (IPP).

 

In his letter to Edita Bueno, National Electrification Administration chief, Tupas said the statements of former Regional Trial Court judge Mateo Baldoza, who is also the president of the Ileco 3 board of directors, is nothing but idle talk.

 

Baldoza claimed in an interview with Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo last May 5 that Tupas gave him an envelope containing P75,000 during a meeting with executives of Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech) at the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

 

Baldoza later modified his statement saying it was a female employee of Artech, not Tupas, who gave him the envelope.

 

“The credibility of Atty. Baldoza is questionable. His supposed revelation is hearsay,” Tupas said in the letter dated May 22, 2009.

 

In an earlier media interview, Tupas said it was only Baldoza who claimed that money changed hands during the meeting with Artech.

 

“Of all the board members, he is the only one saying that he was bribed. Who will you believe then?” the governor said.

 

In his bloctime radio program over Aksyon Radyo Saturday, Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada also lambasted Baldoza for changing his tune regarding the alleged bribery of the Ileco 3 board.

 

Mejorada said Baldoza has no credibility after the latter modified his statement in a latter interview with Inquirer correspondent Nestor Burgos Jr.

 

Mejorada earlier confirmed that Tupas summoned the Ileco 3 board and Artech officials led by Engr. Reynaldo Uy to a meeting at his house April 17.

 

In the same letter to Bueno, Tupas also assailed Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias for “twisting the truth.”

 

Banias, former mayor of Concepcion which is under Ileco 3 franchise, earlier wrote NEA asking for an investigation on the Ileco 3-Artech deal and the alleged bribe of the board of directors.

 

Tupas said it is not true that Baldoza “repeatedly admitted publicly over the media” that the governor gave the latter an envelope with P75,000 inside.

 

“Atty. Baldoza was interviewed only once when he made that statement,” he said.

 

Tupas added: “He (Banias) also embellished the false story by saying that the directors were ‘called one by one’ into a room. That wasn’t part of Atty. Baldoza’s statement in the radio interview. Asec. Banias is making up his own story.”

 

Tupas also defended Artech’s deal to Ileco 3 saying the IPP offered the lowest generation charge compared to other IPPs that joined the bidding conducted by the Panay-Guimaras power consortium.

 

REVELATION

 

Banias said that before the May 5 interview, Baldoza already revealed the alleged bribery to him, Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla and other personalities in the 5th district.

 

Banias said that as early as Holy Week, Baldoza told him about the pressures the board received from Tupas to accept Artech’s offer.

 

Banias said Baldoza revealed the bribery in a text message and phone calls in the first week of May.

 

“It was Judge Baldoza who revealed the information to a lot of people even before his radio interview. If he changed his statement, only he knows why. But I believe in the integrity and probity of Judge Baldoza and I believe that he will eventually tell the truth,” Banias said.

 

Meanwhile, in his sworn affidavit dated May 13, 2009, Arandilla said Baldoza showed him an envelope filled with P75,000 cash given by a female Artech employee during their April 21 special board meeting, the same day they approved and signed the power supply deal at Finerock Hotel.

 

“I counted the money inside the envelope and determined to be containing P75,000 allegedly coming from Artech. President Baldoza told me to get P10,000 from the said amount because he will give the rest to the church but I refused,” Arandilla said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

A TEAM of investigators from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) is already in Tuesday to start the probe on the alleged bribery of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 directors and the cooperative’s supply agreement with a power producer.

 

The investigators arrived after the Ileco 3 management team wrote sent a letter to NEA administrator Edita Bueno last week seeking an investigation on the 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) with Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

The management team also asked NEA to preventively suspend the board of directors headed by former judge Mateo Baldoza pending the investigation.

 

The NEA investigators arrived yesterday while the day the Sangguniang Panlalawigan was conducting a fact-finding investigation on the issue.

 

Bueno confirmed in a text message to The Daily Guardian that they sent investigators to look into the complaint of the Ileco 3 management team.

 

Baldoza claimed last May 5 that Governor Niel Tupas Sr. gave him an envelope filled with P75,000 cash during a meeting with Artech officials April 17 at the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City.

 

Another envelope containing P75,000 cash was given to Baldoza by a female Artech worker during the board’s special meeting in Iloilo City April 21, the same day the PSA was approved and signed.

 

But Baldoza later modified his allegation saying it was not Tupas who gave him the first envelope but a female employee of Artech headed by Engr. Reynaldo Uy.

 

Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla confirmed in his sworn affidavit that Baldoza showed him the cash-filled envelope the latter received April 21.

 

Dr. Raul Banias, Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas, said Baldoza told him about the pressures and bribe he received in exchange for the approval of Artech’s proposal.

 

Tupas’ camp denied the bribery in his house even as they blamed politics and business as the motive behind the exposé.

 

The provincial board probe was headed by Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., committee on investments and economic enterprise chair.

 

As reported earlier, Gov. Tupas did not attend the hearing due to “prior commitments”. Also absent was Artech president Uy who instead sent Domingo Beltran, vice president for marketing and business development.

 

Beltran defended the PSA with Ileco 3 saying it will eventually drive down prices of electricity and give livelihood to consumers. He also denied that their company bribed Ileco 3 directors.

 

Except for Arandilla, the whole Ileco 3 board did not attend the hearing held at the Sara covered gym.

 

Arandilla reiterated his statements in his affidavit the board was summoned to a meeting with Artech officials in Tupas’ house.

 

After the meeting, Arandilla said Baldoza, a former court judge, told him that Tupas personally gave him P75,000 cash during the meeting.

 

Baldoza, who is in Cagayan de Oro City, said he will attend the next hearing if invited by the SP.

 

A brownout hit the covered gym during the investigation which disrupted the proceedings.

 

Ileco 3 employees were also seen wearing black armband in protest of the PSA which is seen to jack up prices of electricity in Ileco 3.

 

Several towns under Ileco 3 franchise presented their respective resolutions asking for the revocation of the PSA. They also urged for a congressional inquiry on the issue.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A MEMBER of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco-3) board of directors (BoD) confirmed the much-publicized bribery in the house of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. last April 17, 2009.

 

In his sworn affidavit dated May 13, 2009, Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla said that on April 17, BoD president Mateo Baldoza told him that the board was summoned to a meeting with officials of Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech) in Tupas’ house at Brgy. MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City

 

“I called our board president through my cellphone and he confirmed the information and that he was about to go to the house of Governor Tupas in Iloilo City and I categorically told him that I am not going to the house of Governor Tupas for that meeting,” said Arandilla who represents the towns of Anilao and Banate to the Ileco 3 board.

 

After the meeting, Arandilla said Baldoza, a former court judge, told him that Tupas personally gave him P75,000 cash during the meeting.

 

Baldoza confirmed receiving money from Tupas in an interview with Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo last May 5.

 

The former judge said he received another envelope containing P75,000 from a female employee of Artech during their board meeting April 21, 2009 at Fine Rock Hotel in Iloilo City. The power supply deal with Artech was approved and inked on the same day.

 

Arandilla said that after the April 21 meeting, Baldoza showed him an envelope while saying “There is an ‘additional’.”

 

“I inquired what it was and he told me that it must be money given by a lady wearing black and out of curiosity and with his consent, I counted the money inside the envelope and determined to be containing P75,000 allegedly coming from Artech,” Arandilla said.

 

Arandilla said Baldoza told him to get P10,000 because he will give the rest of the money to the Church but the former refused. “Finally, he told me that only myself and his wife knew about this (money).”

 

The money is believed to be linked to the 25-year power supply agreement between Artech and Ileco 3. 

 

Arandilla’s statement corroborates the claim of Dr. Raul Banias, presidential assistant for Western Visayas, that Baldoza told him about the money Tupas gave the board president.

 

Banias said that even before the April 17 meeting, Baldoza confided to him that Tupas was pressuring the board to approve and sign the deal with Artech.

 

Banias said Baldoza volunteered the same information to other persons such as former board member Victorino “Dagul” Salcedo II and former Ileco 3 general manager Gil Altamira.

 

“These people confirmed that Judge Baldoza told them about the alleged bribe and pressures,” Banias said.

 

Baldoza, however, retracted his statement in another interview saying a lady from Artech and not Tupas gave the money to him at Tupas’ house.

 

Ileco 3 legal officer Edison Belloga had denied the alleged bribe in the deal with Artech.

 

Arandilla and Baldoza resisted the power supply agreement because Artech’s generation charge is the most expensive compared to other independent power producers (IPPs) that joined the bidding called by the Panay-Guimaras power consortium.

 

It was learned that Arandilla is a retired public school principal.

 

WHAT BRIBE?

 

In an interview with Febe Morales of Aksyon Radyo, Artech president Reynaldo Uy denied greasing the Ileco 3 board.

 

Uy said he met the Ileco 3 board at Tupas’ house last April 17 upon the invitation of director Asur Salcedo.

 

Uy said he has been presenting his company’s proposal to the Ileco 3 board since January 2009. During those presentations, the management team was also present and queried the executive about the deal.

 

Artech proposed to first construct a 6-megawatt diesel-fired power plant within 2010.

 

Once the diesel plant is completed, Artech will put up a 20MW biomass power plant which will be completed in 2010. The IPP will use sorghum as feedstock of the biomass plant.

 

Uy said he sensed that the management team was biased to other IPPs that will invest in Iloilo.

 

The Artech president said he laced the deal with a provision to build and turnover to Ileco 3 a P40-million power substation 25 years after the implementation of the supply agreement.

Ileco 3 consumers stage an indignation march and rally at the Sara office of Ileco 3. (Photos by Tara Yap)

Ileco 3 consumers stage an indignation march and rally at the Sara office of Ileco 3. (Photos by Tara Yap)

 

Presidential Assistant for Panay Raul Banias and former Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Victorino Salcedo question Baldoza who claimed he received money from Artech. Banias would later walk out from the dialogue.

Presidential Assistant for Panay Raul Banias and former Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Victorino Salcedo question Baldoza who claimed he received money from Artech. Banias would later walk out from the dialogue.

 

Former judge Mateo Baldoza

Former judge Mateo Baldoza

 

 

Banias confirms Baldoza told him about Artech bribe

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap

 

AS EARLY as Holy Week, Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias had already learned that the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board of directors was being pressured to strike a deal with an independent power producer (IPP).

 

Banias said he first got wind of the controversial deal between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech) from board president Mateo Baldoza. 

 

“During Holy Week, I received a text message from Judge Baldoza informing me that Governor Niel Tupas is calling the board to a meeting at the governor’s house. He also told me that they were being pressured to accept Artech’s proposal,” Banias said over cable TV program, Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday morning.

 

Banias said Baldoza told him last May 1 about the meeting at Tupas’ house in Jaro, Iloilo City April 21 and the money Baldoza initially claimed to have received from the governor. Two Artech officials – president Reynaldo Uy and vice president Domingo Beltran – were present in the meeting.

 

The retired judge also recounted another envelope filled with cash was given to him last April 21 during a special board meeting in a hotel in Iloilo City.

 

Banias said Baldoza volunteered the same information to other officials and personalities in the 5th congressional district.

 

Last May 5, Baldoza told Aksyon Radyo anchorman Joel Tormon that Tupas gave him an envelope containing P75,000 while saying “Buligan ta lang sila (Let’s help them).”

 

Baldoza said the money may have something to do with the Artech deal which he questioned because of its exorbitant generation charge of P8.56 per kilowatt-hour.

 

But Baldoza contradicted himself in another interview saying a woman from Artech gave the money at Tupas’s house, not the governor.

 

Tupas also denied bribing Baldoza although he confirmed the meeting at his mansion. The governor said he favors the agreement with Artech because the IPP can provide power when Ileco 3’s power supply deal with the National Power Corp. expires next year.

 

Banias said he pities Baldoza, whom he described as an honest and forthright person.

 

“Judge Baldoza is a person of high integrity and probity. Maybe he was guilt-stricken reason why he volunteered the information to me, to other personalities and the media to assuage that guilt. I don’t know why he recanted his statement. If he changed his story, then his credibility is in question,” Banias added.

 

More than 1,000 consumers led by Banias, provincial Board Members Jett Rojas, former board member Victorino Salcedo II, Mayors Ermelita Salcedo of Sara, Elizabeth Salcedo of Concepcion and other local officials held an indignation rally at the Ileco 3 office in Sara while the board was in a meeting.

 

The protesters carried placards denouncing the power supply agreement with Artech and the alleged bribe given to Ileco 3 officials.

 

One placard asked: “Gov. Tupas ngaa ginbaligya mo kami? (Gov. Tupas why did you sell us)?” Another said: “Ileco 3 for sale P150,000 per director for inquiries just contact ARTECH.”

 

Buligi lang da sila ari ang P75,000,” said another placard.

 

The protesters also hanged a streamer at the gates of Ileco 3 compound in Brgy. Preciosa, Sara condemning the power supply agreement with Artech.

 

A dialogue was later held between the Ileco 3 board and local officials to discuss the issues.

 

Banias, Rojas and the mayors queried Baldoza on the alleged bribe but the latter stuck to his latest pronouncements that Tupas did not bribe him. He also said that the money was not meant to favor Artech.

 

“It’s not a bribe. We gave it to the Knights of Columbus because it’s for charity,” Baldoza said during the dialogue.

 

But Banias said he noticed that Baldoza, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus, was shaking and visibly disturbed while denying that the governor was involved.

 

All municipal governments under the Ileco 3 franchise are planning to pass resolutions opposing the 25-year power supply agreement with Artech.

 

Copies of the resolutions will be given to Ileco 3, National Electrification Administration, and the Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy, Banias said.

Ileco 3 consumers nix Artech deal

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

DISTRIBUTION utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) must make sure that their consumers enjoy ample power supply at the cheapest cost, according to an Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) official.

 

Rauf Tan, ERC commissioner, said these responsibilities of power utilities are embodied in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001.

 

“In the Epira, the distribution utilities must look for the cheapest possible source of electricity for the end consumers,” Tan told The Daily Guardian.

 

Tan was reacting to the controversial 25-year power supply agreement between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board of directors and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc (Artech).

 

Tan and fellow ERC commissioner Jose Reyes arrived in Iloilo City to conduct a hearing on the petition of Panay Electric Co. (Peco) and Panay Power Corp. regarding the latter’s asset recovery scheme.

 

The ERC officials said Peco and Ilecos 1, 2 and 3 must secure the energy needs of their consumers.

 

How will power distributors go about this?

 

“The utilities should ensure that they have enough power supply contracts to meet the requirements of their customers. They must undergo a competitive process which is expected to result in competitive prices (of power),” Tan said, apparently referring to the bidding process.

 

Under the Epira, all power supply contracts must be submitted to the ERC to establish the pricing mechanism and approval.

 

Tan said Ileco 3 will have to divulge to the commission the process it used to come up with the agreement with Artech.

 

“Ileco 3 will have to answer for that as they must show that the agreement is cost effective,” he added.

 

The Ileco 3 management headed by Dory Joy Canones, Financial Services Department head, assailed the Artech deal because it will drive up the price of electricity by 100%, from P6 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P12 per kWh.

 

Canones also claimed the management team was not involved in the approval and signing of the agreement.

 

Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza and member Rene Arandilla also questioned the deal because Artech’s generation charge of P8.56 per kWh is higher compared to other IPPs.

 

A study of Ileco 3’s Technical Services Department showed that Global Power’s generation charge is only P4.82 per kWh, Asea One (P5.90 per kWh) and DMCI (P6.60 per kWh).

 

Artech did not join the bidding conducted by the Panay-Guimaras power consortium but made an unsolicited offer to Ileco 3.

 

Baldoza also claimed receiving P150,000 cash from Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and an Artech employee prior to the approval of the agreement.

 

Baldoza later contradicted himself when denied receiving money from Tupas who also denied the allegation.

 

PROBE

 

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) will investigate Ileco 3’s deal with Artech.

 

Percy Crisostomo, head of NEA’s Industrial Relation Development Department, said they will ask the Ileco 3 board to explain why it approved and signed the deal sans approval from NEA.

 

Crisostomo said the Ileco 3 board should have sought NEA’s approval first before signing the agreement with Artech.

 

NEA provides financial, institutional and technical assistance to ECs.

 

Crisostomo said the cooperative’s management team must be involved in negotiations for power supply agreements “because it will implement the policies and decisions of the board.”

 

The bidding process in power supply purchases is also important to ensure that electricity rates are beneficial to the consumers, Crisostomo said.

 

“The bidding will help the cooperative determine which offer from power producers is most beneficial to the clients. The consumers must also be consulted to get their stand on the agreement,” he added.

 

GATHERING STORM

 

Consumers and leaders of towns under Ileco 3 franchise are set to meet and decide on how to oppose the cooperative’s supply agreement with Artech.

 

Ileco 3 covers the towns of Anilao and Banate in the 4th district and Barotac Viejo, San Rafael, Lemery, Ajuy, Concepcion, Sara, San Dionisio, Batad, Estancia, Balasan and Carles in the 5th district.

 

Mayor Elizabeth “Besty” Salcedo said they are disappointed with the deal because Ileco 3 did not consult their constituents before approving the deal.

 

“There was no general assembly or hearing called on this mater. They should have consulted the consumers first,” Salcedo said.

 

Salcedo said she has been calling other mayors in the 5th district to discuss the issue.

 

“I will join the decision of other leaders to move against Ileco because we have to protect the interest of our people who are also consumers,” she said.

 

Earlier, Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias called for the revocation of the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

 

Banias said many leaders are disappointed with the decision of Ileco 3 to strike a deal with the independent power producer.

THE DEAL Atty. Edison Belloga, Ileco 3 board counsel, discusses the stipulations of the power supply agreement with Artech. (Photo by Tara Yap)

THE DEAL Atty. Edison Belloga, Ileco 3 board counsel, discusses the stipulations of the power supply agreement with Artech. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CLEAN as a whistle.

 

The legal counsel of the board of directors (BoD) of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 denied that bribery attended the negotiations and approval of the coop’s 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) with an independent power producer (IPP).

 

Atty. Edison Belloga, Ileco 3 board legal counsel, said the BoD decided on the track record and merits of the power supply offer of Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

“The directors did not receive money from anyone in exchange for their approval of Artech’s offer. The board studied the offer early this year before deciding,” Belloga said.

 

Former Judge Mateo Baldoza, Ileco 3 board president, earlier claimed that he received P75,000 from Governor Niel Tupas Sr. during a meeting with Artech officials in the latter’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17, 2009.

 

Baldoza also alleged that a female Artech employee gave him another P75,000 cash during approval and signing of the PSA in the board’s regular meeting at Fine Rock Hotel April 21.

 

Baldoza, however, was not sure if the other directors also received money from Tupas and Artech.

 

Aside from Baldoza, also present in the meeting at the Tupas mansion in Brgy. MV Hechanova in Jaro were BoD vice president Emmanuel Pacardo, secretary Joy Fuentes, treasurer Asur Salcedo and Achilles Pama. BoD members Rene Arandilla and Vincent Frances Espinosa did not attend.

 

Belloga said the agreement with Artech will result in stable power supply to Ileco 3 consumers aside from providing livelihood opportunities.

 

Belloga told The Daily Guardian that Artech will first construct a 6-megawatt diesel-fired power plant within 2010.

 

Once the diesel plant is completed, Artech will put up a 20MW biomass power plant which will be completed in 2010. The IPP will use sorghum as feedstock of the biomass plant.

 

Belloga said Artech’s proposal is similar to its PSA with Capiz Electric Cooperative (Capelco) which the Energy Regulatory Commission already last year.

 

“The board saw that Artech can supply electricity by the time that Ileco 3’s supply agreement with the National Power Corp. expires December 25, 2010. The other plants will go online in 2011 yet. The board also considered environmental and health issues in approving Artech’s offer,” Belloga said.

 

Belloga said Artech will also establish a sorghum plantation to sustain the biomass plant’s operations.

 

“Artech will either buy or rent un-arable lands in the 5th district for the sorghum plantation aside from hiring workers in our area. This agreement is beneficial to us.”

 

EXPENSIVE BUT…

 

Baldoza and Arandilla also questioned the agreement with Artech because the firm’s generation cost of P8.56 per kilowatt-hour is higher than the rates offered by other IPPs.

 

The two directors said they wanted the board to study Artech’s price for 60 days because it would result in higher electricity bills for Ileco 3 consumers.

 

Ileco 3 consumers are presently paying P6 per kWh but if the cooperative starts drawing power from Artech, the rates will increase by 100% to P12 per kWh inclusive of distribution charges.

 

The comparative study of Engr. Antonio Lazarraga, Technical Services Department manager of Ileco 3, showed that Global Power offered the lowest price at P4.82 per kWh, Asea One – P5.90 per kWh and DMCI – P6.60 per kWh.

 

Belloga agreed that Artech’s generation cost is higher compared to other IPPs “but that is only temporary.”

 

“When the biomass plant starts operating, our generation cost will be cheaper than that of a diesel or coal-fired power plant. The proposed coal plants are facing environmental and health issues which the board also considered,” Belloga said.

 

Belloga said they invited Lazarraga to explain his study during the board meeting last April 21 but he did not attend.

 

“The directors wanted to ask him about his study during the board meeting but Engr. Lazarraga did not show up. The board wanted to get more details on how he was able to come up with the study and his recommendations,” he added.

 

Belloga said Artech will also put up a P30-million transformer which will be turned over to Ileco 3.

 

“We believe in Artech’s competence because it has been in the energy industry for more than 20 years (now). Other IPPs only entered the industry a year ago while Artech has a proven track record,” Belloga said.

 

Belloga said he is puzzled by Baldoza’s allegations since the latter signed the contract with Artech.

 

“The board authorized him to sign the agreement which he did. If he had reservations on the deal, he had the option not to sign the PSA. I am surprised by his allegations,” Belloga said.

 

Gov. Tupas has denied bribing Ileco 3 directors in his house saying he only facilitated the meeting with Artech officials and the BoD.

 

Tupas said he favors the deal because it will immediately solve the power crisis in Ileco 3.

 

“I am willing to be investigated on this because I did not bribe anybody,” Tupas said.

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