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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IT’S still Defensor-Garin all the way to the May 2010 elections.

This was the firm assurance of Board Member Oscar Richard S. Garin as regards his tandem with House Majority Arthur D. Defensor Sr. who is seeking the governorship of Iloilo.

Garin cleared the air of the yarn that his father, Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin struck an alliance with the Tupases to support the gubernatorial run of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas.

“There is no deal with the Tupases. If ever that is true, it’s unethical. Although my father and Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. have maintained their friendship after running against each other in 2004, there have been no talks or negotiations about our political plans with them,” Garin said after filing his candidacy for vice governor Monday morning.

Stories filtering out of the Tupas camp say the Garins will support Mayor Tupas in the 2010 elections. In exchange, the Tupases, who are members of the Liberal Party, will not field candidates against the Garin group.

BM Garin said that if his wife, Rep. Jeanette Garin and mayors in their camp don’t have opponents in next year’s polls, it’s because of their respective accomplishments and efforts as public officials, not for any political deal.

He said that if his father and Gov. Tupas were seen talking in the past days, “it’s because they get invited to the same occasions aside from maintaining their cordial relationship.”

“If ever my father talks to Gov. Tupas, I never authorized him to talk about my politics. The same thing is true for Gov. Tupas. My father did not even convince me run for vice governor. This is my own independent decision. We, the children of these two political leaders, are mature enough to decide on our political path,” he added.

Garin said they continue to be committed to Rep. Defensor’s gubernatorial run next year.

“I support the candidacy of Rep. Arthur Defensor for governor. Seven months ago, we heard that my father is interested to run for governor. He later clarified that he will not run but he will support Rep. Defensor. Our family including my wife and father are still committed to Rep. Defensor. We will exert our effort to support him,” Garin said.

Garin said his tandem with Defensor “is a combination of a good planner and a good project implementor.”

“Rep. Defensor has a dream of decent, honorable and transparent governance. And I join him in this vision that’s why I am running with him,” he added. 

Defensor and Garin went to the Commission on Elections provincial office in LaPaz, Iloilo City past 10am to formalize their candidacies.

They were accompanied by their candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan – former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Juanito Acanto (3rd district), Rodolfo Cabado (2nd district) and JR Salcedo (5th district).

The Defensor-Garin tandem will carry the Lakas-Kampi-CMD banner although they have a tactical alliance with 4th district Rep. Ferjenel G. Biron who is running under the Nacionalista Party.

Dr. Macario Napulan, who is seeking his third term as provincial board member, will team up with former Oton mayor Carina Flores in the 1st district under the Lakas-Kampi banner. They filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC) along with Rep. Jeanette L. Garin.

In the 5th district, Board Member Jett Rojas will file his candidacy for a second term in the SP along with Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico who will try to recapture his old seat as congressman.

Dumangas Vice Mayor Hernan G. Biron Jr. and Dueñas Sangguniang Bayan Member Ronald Cajuya have filed their CoCs for the provincial board representing the 4th district.

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Artech admits contract with Ileco-3 defective

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

NO less than the vice president of Applied Research Technologies Phils. (Artech) admitted that their power supply agreement (PSA) with Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) is flawed.

Atty. Ramil Naciongayo, counsel for complainants Gerardo P. Panes and Evelyn P. Peñaflor, said Artech vice president for administration and business development Domingo Beltran admitted the defects in the 25-year contract before the National Electrification Administration (NEA) investigation committee looking into the alleged bribery and onerous provisions of the Artech-Ileco 3 contract signed last April 21, 2009 in Iloilo City.

The story hugged the headlines after Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza claimed that he received cash-laden envelope from Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. during a meeting with Artech officials at the governor’s house last April 17.

The cash, Baldoza assumed, was meant to facilitate the negotiations and approval of the power supply agreement offered by Artech.

Naciongayo said Atty. Xerxes Adzuara, NEA probe committee chair, discovered the flaw when they went over Beltran’s affidavit.

Beltran claimed in his affidavit that the contract is beneficial to Ileco 3 because Artech will construct the transmission facility to link the cooperative to the power producer’s proposed diesel and biomass plants.

Beltran said Artech will shoulder the construction so that Ileco 3 will not charge transmission fees on its consumers. The cooperative will only maintain the transmission facility.

But Section 9.2 of the PSA provides that Ileco 3 will construct and maintain the transmission facility.

Beltran told the panel that they are willing to amend the contract in keeping with Artech’s commitment to put up the facility.

He added that Artech prepared the contract which the Ileco 3 board later approved and signed through Baldoza.

Naciongayo said the defect only shows that the Ileco 3 directors did not study the contract which Artech prepared and offered to them.

“The board did not study the contract before approving it because they missed the discrepancy between what was agreed verbally during the negotiation and what is written in the contract. Had they taken time to read the provisions, they could have found it beforehand. And Beltran admitted that there was a flaw in the contract,” Naciongayo said.

IS ARTECH CAPABLE?

Naciongayo also pointed out the conflicting interpretation of Beltran and the contract on when the agreement will take effect.

Section 3.3 of the PSA provides that the contract shall become effective upon its execution and when the plant is ready to deliver electricity.

But Beltran told the NEA panel that commercial operations will only start once the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves the PSA.

Beltran said they have yet to submit the PSA to the ERC because it is Ileco 3’s job.

Naciongayo said Beltran’s interpretation of the contract’s effectivity is disadvantageous to the cooperative as it will be at the mercy of Artech.

“What if Artech does not do anything? Ileco 3 will be left hanging and that will endanger the power needs of its consumers,” the lawyer said.

Naciongayo also cited Artech’s contract with Capiz Electric Cooperative (Capelco) which took seven years to commence.

He said the Artech-Capelco contract was signed in 2001 but it was only approved in 2008.

Artech later formed another corporation, Enervantage, by partnering with a prominent family in Capiz in order to fulfill its contract with Capelco.

“Right now, Artech has no contract with Capelco, its Enervantage. This is a question of Artech’s capability to deliver its commitment,” Naciongayo said.

NO DISCOUNT

Naciongayo also hit Beltran’s justification before the NEA panel why Artech did not include the prompt payment discount in the 25-year PSA.

“Mr. Beltran said the discount is just a decoration in supply contracts as they have not encountered any cooperative that pays their bill within the 3-day period. In this case, Artech is assuming that Ileco 3 cannot pay its bills on time. Artech actually does not trust the cooperative to fulfill its part of the contract. So why is Artech doing business with Ileco 3 if there is no trust and confidence between them,” he said.

The discount, which is usually pegged at 3%, is an incentive to cooperatives that pay their suppliers within three days upon receipt of the monthly billing. The discount is a feature of power supply contracts to encourage power distributors to pay their suppliers promptly.

BALDOZA CONFESSION

Last Tuesday Ileco 3 board President Baldoza admitted before the NEA panel that Gov. Tupas gave him money in exchange for his approval of Artech’s offer.

Naciongayo said he suggested to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to secure copies of the transcript of Baldoza’s admission.

He said the transcript could be a basis for the filing of criminal cases against personalities involved in the Artech-Ileco 3 bribery scandal.

“The NBI said they will request the NEA administration committee to provide the transcript of Baldoza’s admission. The NBI has been investigating this case as regards the bribery angle,” Naciongayo said.

Naciongayo said there is also a chance that the 25-year PSA might be rescinded or annulled because of the onerous provisions.

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Governor Niel D. Tupas Sr. may be liable to pay penalties to the Iloilo City government for constructing a house worth P3.5 million sans necessary permits.

Engr. Jose Tenco of the Iloilo City Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals said Tupas will be fined P5,000 for failure to secure locational clearance for the 2-story residential building being constructed beside his mansion at MV Hechanova, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Based on a copy of Tupas’ application for locational clearance, the residential building has a total project cost of P3,540,154.50. It is constructed on a 320-square meter lot inside the governor’s compound in Jaro.

Tupas admitted over Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that the construction of the 2-story building has already begun for more than a week. He also said that they only submitted the application for locational clearance last October 19.

Tenco said they investigated the project site and found out that the construction has begun sans the locational and building permit.

The locational clearance is a pre-requisite to the building permit which must be secured from the Iloilo City Engineer’s Office (CEO).

Tenco said that aside from paying fines to the zoning board, CEO can also fine Tupas.

The CEO can also order Tupas to stop the construction until he has secured the necessary permits. Worse, the city government can file charges against the governor for violating the building code and relative local ordinances.

Incidentally, Tupas youngest son, Nielex Tupas is an Iloilo City councilor.

The new house being constructed in the Tupas compound was the subject of an investigative report by The Daily Guardian’s photojournalist Tara Yap.

Yap went to MV Hechanova to verify the information and take pictures of the construction project.

But caretakers of the Tupas mansion accosted Yap before she could take pictures and confiscated her camera, cellphones and bag.

The caretakers also detained Yap inside the Tupas mansion for more than 20 minutes.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Audit (COA) stopped three fund releases of the executive department of the Iloilo provincial government for lack of approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and other requirements.

These releases involved financial aids to a group of non-government organizations (NGOs) and two multipurpose cooperatives in Iloilo.

The audit body was able to sift out the questionable releases because of the pre-auditing procedure conducted on all provincial capitol transactions.

In a letter to Governor Niel Tupas Sr., Haydee O. Pasuelo, COA state auditor 4 based in Iloilo, returned Disbursement Voucher No. 100-09-09-12615 dated August 15, 2009 for the release of P500,000 to the Iloilo Coalition of Non-Government Organizations and Peoples’ Organizations (ICON).

Pasuelo said in her September 16, 2009 letter that the disbursement papers released by the Office of the Governor bore the following violations and deficiencies:

–         lack of proof that the project to be implemented by the NGO/PO is made public via newspapers, agency websites, bulletin boards and the like, at least three months prior to the target date of commencement of the identified projects;

–         non-submission of accreditation of the NGO/PO as project partners by the GO through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), or a committee created for the purpose;

–         non-submission of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA);

–         Lack of proof that the NGO/PO have complied with the equity requirement equivalent to 20% of the total project cost, which may be in the form of labor, land for project site, facilities, equipment and the like, to be used in the project.

Despite the COA advice, the Office of the Governor tried to release a total of P600,000 to two multipurpose cooperatives based in the towns of Banate and San Enrique, Iloilo.

A total of P400,000 loan was to be released to the De La Paz Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Brgy. De La Paz, Banate.

The governor also tried to release another P200,000 loan to the District of San Enrique Public School Teachers and Non-Teachers Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

But Pasuelo said the financial aids were defective as these were not concurred by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as prescribed by Section 36 of the Local Government Code.

NGOs/POs that seek funding assistance from local governments must first submit several documents as embodied in COA Circular No. 2007-001 before they can receive money from the capitol.

Some of these requisite documents include certificates of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cooperative Development Authority and Department of Labor and Employment; authenticated copy of the latest Articles of Incorporation or articles of cooperation; financial report audited by and independent certified public accountant.

In a letter dated October 7, 2009, Tupas sought authority from the SP to enter into loan contracts with seven cooperatives that want to borrow a total of P1.5 million.

Among the seven cooperatives were the cooperatives in Banate and San Enrique whose disbursement vouchers were nixed by COA.

Tupas’ letter was included in the agenda of SP’s regular session Tuesday and has been referred to the committee on appropriations.

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they will strictly scrutinize the standing of the cooperatives.

Suplico said they will determine if the cooperatives satisfied the documentary requirements set by COA.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE executive department of the Iloilo provincial government is proposing to spend more than P1 billion next year.

In an endorsement letter dated October 15, 2009 sent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Office of the Governor pegged the executive budget for 2010 at P1.3 billion.

A total of P1,375,221,778.55 was set aside for the province’s Annual Investment Program (AIP) next year which will be funded from the 20% Internal Revenue Allocation Development Fund, general fund and other funding sources of the province.

The AIP serves as the blueprint for the programs and projects of the provincial government. It mainly covers five sectors: general public services, social services, economic services, institutional services and other services such as infrastructures.

Based on the breakdown furnished by the executive department, a total of P590,683,429 was allocated for personal services which includes salaries and other benefits of provincial capitol workers.

A total of P342,103,262 was set aside from monthly operating and other expenses while P30.065 million was allocated for capital outlay.

Some P230,098,570 was allocated for the 20% development projects while aids to barangays amounted to P1.721 million.

A total of P20 million will be set aside for loan amortization and P65 million for the 5% calamity fund.

The budget for election reserve is pegged at P3 million while the allocation for terminal pays amounted to P17,328,739.

The 2010 budget has been referred to the committee on appropriations for deliberations.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Vice Governor Rolex Suplico on Tuesday condemned the harassment of The Daily Guardian’s photojournalist at the multi-million peso mansion of Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. Friday last week.

In a privilege speech delivered during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s regular session, Suplico said the caretakers of Tupas mocked Tara Yap’s rights under the 1987 Constitution after they forced her out of a taxi, snatched her personal belongings and detained her inside the mansion for more than 20 minutes.

The Daily Guardian dispatched Yap to verify reports that a new structure is being constructed inside the compound of Tupas’ mansion.

She was also instructed to take pictures of the compound to serve as visuals for a series of reports on the lifestyle of public officials.

Yap was about to leave the area when she did not see any activity inside the compound.

But caretakers under the employ of the Tupas household barred Yap’s taxi from leaving and ordered her to alight from the vehicle.

The caretakers also confiscated Yap’s personal belongings even if she identified herself as a member of the media.

They also ordered Yap to go inside Tupas’ mansion where she was held against her will for more than 20 minutes.

Suplico said Tupas’ caretakers are liable for the crime of kidnapping when they harassed and detained Yap.

The vice governor also likened the incident to areas where journalists are killed.

“What gets the gall is the fact that the victim was no other than a journalist. I thought that these can happen only in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq or some country where there is complete breakdown of peace and order. But this cannot happen here in peaceful and laidback Iloilo, the home of Graciano Lopez Jaena, the founder of the La Solidaridad. Our revolutionary hero from Jaro District must be turning over in his grave,” Suplico said.

Suplico also asked the Sanggunian to pass a resolution condemning Yap’s harassment at Tupas’ mansion.

The proposed resolution will be deliberated in the SP’s regular session next week.

Award-winning photojournalist Joe Torres Jr. said Tupas should discipline his employees for harassing Yap.

In his blog http://jotorres.wordpress.com, Torres said Yap’s harassment is a cause for alarm.

“It is alarming that a politician would resort to harassing a photojournalist, even detaining her against her will, confiscating her personal belongings and even suing her for doing her job,” Torres said.

Torres said the act of Tupas’ caretakers “was pure and simple harassment and a violation not only of Yap’s rights but of press freedom.”

“With the elections coming, politicians seemed to have this penchant of harassing media practitioners who are out to expose possible irregularities. Media groups like the National Press Club and the PCP should not stop by just condemning the incident. Appropriate charges should also be filed against the men of Tupas. To Governor Tupas, you should look into this incident and start disciplining your men and tell them to just keep off their hands from the media,” Torres said.

Torres is a Manila-based journalist and a two-time recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Journalism for his books “Unholy Nation: Stories from a Gambling Republic” (2004) and “Into the Mountain: Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf” (2002).

Joe was conferred the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowships for Professional Development by the Benigno Aquino Foundation and the US Embassy in Manila in 2005. He was also a fellow at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines-Iloilo said the confiscation of Yap’s personal belongings was uncalled for as she already identified herself as a photojournalist.

“Even law enforcers cannot do this except with the necessary search warrants or when they have enough proof to investigate or apprehend a person,” the group said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE head of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the Iloilo provincial capitol denied any irregularity in the purchase of two hematology analyzers worth P2.9 million each for two district hospitals.

Atty. Salvador Cabaluna III, provincial legal officer and BAC chair, said the two analyzers supplied by Crestline Scientific Corp. conformed with the specifications in the request of the two hospitals.

The heads of Federico Roman Tirador Sr. Memorial District Hospital (FRTMDH) and Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) refused to accept the two hematology analyzers as it did not follow the purchase orders aside from being defective. 

Drs. Noel Roy Gigare, FRTMDH head, and Levi Osea, RTMDH chief, said the machines lack vital components and produced unreliable and erroneous results.

Cabaluna said the BAC’s technical working group found out that Crestline’s machines followed what the two hospitals requested.

“The concerns of the two hospital chiefs were addressed during a meeting with the technical working group. The advantages of the machines were also discussed with them,” Cabaluna said.

Cabaluna said they will also submit their findings and justifications to the Commission on Audit (COA) which has been inquiring into the transaction.

Cabaluna said he will provide a copy of the letter once it is finalized and submitted to COA.

The purchase of the two hematology analyzers is part of the 2008 Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) which has a total funding of P33 million.

Cabaluna said the machines have no defects “and these were explained to the two hospital chiefs.”

Cabaluna said they cannot exclude Crestline from the transaction because it passed the BAC evaluation aside from offering the lowest bid.

“We cannot skirt around the procurement laws, especially if the supplier is qualified and offered the lowest bid. If the lowest bidder failed to satisfy the requirements, then we can consider the next lowest bidder,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

OFFICIALS in the executive department of the Iloilo provincial government are staring at possible malversation charges for allegedly using funds of the Provincial Population Office (PPO) to house and feed members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Vice Governor Rolex T. Suplico said the use of the PPO’s budget for the accommodation of the PSG is illegal as it violates the 2009 provincial budget.

A total of P110,250 was taken from the PPO’s budget for extraordinary expenses or the so-called “other monthly operating and other expenses (MOOE)” to pay for the hotel accommodations and meals of PSG members.

The PSG members escorted President Gloria Arroyo when she visited Iloilo on September 24 and 25. 

Suplico said the Office of the Governor should have submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan a request to realign the PPO’s budget for the PSG accommodation.

“The 2009 budget is embodied in an appropriation ordinance which is a law approved by the Sanggunian. Thus, it is only the Sanggunian that approves or disapproves any realignment in the appropriation ordinance,” he said.  

Suplico said the persons responsible for the release of the money can be charged with technical malversation.

The vice governor also questioned the bidding process for the PSG expenses.

“What about the bidding? Is there a calamity that will warrant the release of the funds sans any competitive process?” Suplico said.

According to Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, the meals for the PSG members were supplied by Hannah Puda of the Teds chain of fastfood restaurants, which operates the Capitol cafeteria.

Earlier, it was reported that the PPO budget was used to pay for lunch served during the visit of Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

There were also reports that the PPO’s budget for the holding of the Barangay Service Point Officers congress was used to feed the Aquino-Roxas contingent.

But Mejorada clarified the report saying that the PPO only shouldered the PSG’s accommodations.

“As a matter of practice, the host local government underwrites the cost of meals and even hotel accommodations for the officers of the PSG. The period covers at least one day before the event and one day after. In this case, the PSG main group was stranded in Iloilo for three days because of Typhoon Ondoy,” he said.

But why did the PPO shoulder the PSG’s hotel and food expenses?

Mejorada blamed the opposition-laden Sangguniang Panlalawigan for slashing the budget allocated by the Office of the Governor to cover such expenses.

“The catering for the PSG underwent the regular procurement process more than a week before we even knew about the visit of Senators Aquino and Roxas,” he added.

Mejorada said Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and Mayor Raul Tupas shouldered the lunch served for the Aquino-Roxas sortie.

By Tara Yap

A LAWYER of the provincial government represented the board of directors of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 who are under investigation for the alleged bribery in a power supply agreement (PSA) with an independent power producer (IPP).

Atty. Joseph Anthony Lutero of the Provincial Legal Office represented Ileco 3 directors Achilles Pama, Joy Fuentes, Azur Salcedo, Vincent Espinosa and Emmanuel Pacardo during the hearing conducted by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) Thursday in Sara, Iloilo.

The directors are under investigation after Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza revealed that he received P150,000 from Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas and Applied Research Technologies Philippines Inc. (Artech) on two separate occasions.

Artech offered a 25-year PSA to Ileco 3 using a diesel-fired and biomass power plant. But technical managers of Ileco 3 claimed that the firm’s price is higher compared to other IPPs.

Lutero said there is nothing wrong with his appearance at the NEA Administration Committee hearing in behalf of the Ileco 3 directors.

“I don’t see any conflict of interest as we are still allowed to pursue our private practice,” Lutero said.

He added he appeared in the hearing on his private capacity, not as a capitol lawyer.

Lutero also assailed the complaint filed by Ileco 3 consumers against the board with NEA.

“It’s clear that the complainants didn’t understand what they were filing. They are emphasizing on the alleged bribery, but they did not focus on the contract to find out if it’s fair, just and reasonable,” he said.

He added the complainants’ issues on the price has no basis for comparison as it is not possible to compare diesel, biomass and coal with each other as these are different sources of power.

“To my mind, the truth is important. We all want to find out if the BoD acted lawfully,” he added.

In his fact-finding report, Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department chief, said the PSA between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. is “grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to the interests of the cooperative and its member-consumers.”

Mayo said 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 NEA Administration Committee has directed the Ileco 3 directors to submit their position paper on the alleged bribery on or before September 12.

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Health (DOH-6) is keeping tabs of the bidding process on the P33-million hospital equipment upgrading project of the Iloilo provincial government.

Dr. Ariel Valencia, DoH-6 regional director, said they assigned a technical working group (TWG) headed by Drs. Clodualdo Divinagracia Jr. and Emilia Monicinpo.

“The technical working group will look into the specifications of hospital equipment to be purchased by the provincial government. In fact, we retrieved the listing of hospital equipment to be purchased and find out if these match the standards and specifications of the department,” Valencia said.

Valencia said they will also determine if the price range of the equipment is commensurate to the specifications and standards set by the health department.

The DOH-6 chief said the TWG will not approve the payment for sub-standard hospital equipment purchased by the provincial government.

“The specifications of the equipment must meet our standards or else we will not endorse the payment to the supplier. Aside from accountability, we also want to assure that the public will use standard equipment,” he added.  

As regards qualifications of the bidders, Valencia said it is the responsibility of the provincial Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Valencia said the P33-million funding is part of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program from the Office of the President.

The hospital enhancement program began in 2006 and aims to upgrade the equipment of provincial and district hospitals in the country.

Part of the fund went to Western Visayas, with P33 million allocated to Iloilo province in 2008 and another P38 million in 2009. The DoH will handle the bidding of the 2009 budget.

Valencia said Western Visayas congressmen worked together to allocate funds for the hospital facility enhancement project.

Valencia said Iloilo is the remaining province that has yet to bid out the needed equipment for district hospitals.

Medyo matagal na, last year pa dapat natapos yan. The other provinces were already done with the acquisition last year. We are under pressure to finish everything by December 2009 because the President wants to inaugurate all the facilities by then,” Valencia said.

Meanwhile, a member of the Provincial Legal Office reportedly blew his top upon learning that bid documents for the hospital equipment were sold to “favored contractors” or suppliers who are willing to give kickbacks to certain capitol officials.

But Atty. Edgar Sumido denied the report even as he stayed clear of the transactions.

“I hope nothing like that is happening,” Sumido said. He refused to expound on his reply. 

Sumido also denied having any knowledge that bid documents were sold to chosen contractors only. 

 “I have my own obligations.  I know nothing of such things,” he added.

Reports say some people at the governor’s office are “trying to influence” the bidding process.

Sumido said the BAC has been reshuffled because of the sterilizer and anesthesia machine controversy.

He said it cannot be possible that the same contractors are being favored under the new BAC composition.

The BAC, which is headed by provincial legal officer Salvador Cabaluna III, posted an invitation to apply for eligibility and to bid last July 3.

The contracts involve “supply, installation, testing and commissioning of various hospital equipment” for eight Iloilo provincial and district hospitals.

The recipient hospitals are the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan, Dumangas District Hospital in Dumangas, Ricardo S. Provido Memorial District Hospital in Calinog, Dr. Ricardo Y. Ladrido Memorial District Hospital in Lambunao, Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital in Cabatuan, Federico Ramon Tirador Sr. Memorial District Hospital in Janiuay, Don Valerio Palmares Memorial District Hospital in Passi City and H. Aleosan District Hospital in Alimodian.

The bids will be opened July 27, 2009 at the conference room of the Provincial Legal Office.

The provincial government was under fire early this year for the controversial purchase of the P1.3-million autoclave sterilizer by the Passi City district hospital and the P2.4-million anesthesia machine bought by the Calinog district hospital.

A Commission on Audit (CoA) report said Pacific Trade House (PTH), the winning bidder of the sterilizer, lacked a valid business permit when it joined the bidding January 22, 2008.

COA also found out that the sterilizer was locally manufactured and has no patent. In fact, the equipment conked out during the testing.

The audit body also discovered that Joemar Trading, which won the contract for the anesthesia machine, has interlocking ownership with PTH, CDC Pharmacy and Dione Trading.

CDC and Dione also joined the bidding for the anesthesia machine, COA said.

In its latest annual audit report, COA ordered the provincial government to refund the P1.3 million paid for the autoclave sterilizer. (With reports from Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will tackle the request of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. to declare a state of “imminent public health hazard” in the province because of the A(H1N1) flu pandemic.

Citing the governor’s letter, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico said the declaration will empower the executive department to release P1.3 million for the purchase of protective medical gears.

The money will be taken from the 5% calamity fund of the 2009 budget.

Tupas cited in his letter request DBM-DILG Circular No. 2003-02 which allows the release of the calamity fund in preparation for disasters provided a state of imminent danger is first declared.

Suplico said the gears will be used by health workers in the province in responding to suspected A(H1N1) cases.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the executive will buy includes particulate respirator (N95), eye protection, gown and sterile gloves.

“It is apparent that the pandemic is not slowing down and there is a need to adopt measures to enhance the preparedness of our health professionals to handle the ‘swine flu’ in case it continues to spread in Iloilo,” Tupas said in his letter to the SP.

Suplico said he has reservations with Tupas’ request because Iloilo might be the first province to declare a state of imminent danger.

“There are only 22 confirmed cases in Iloilo with no fatality. Quezon City did not declare a state of imminent danger after an employee of the House of Representatives died of A(H1N1) flu,” Suplico said.

The governor said the equipment can be used for other epidemics that might recur such as SARS and Avian Flu.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ANTIQUE Governor Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez does it again.

Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Pelagio Apostol claimed that Perez told him via telephone that Task Force O-Plan Red Plate in Iloilo should apologize to Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Apostol said Perez told him the Red Plate team was wrong in apprehending Tupas’ official car in a checkpoint a week ago.

The task force “chased” Tupas’ convoy after his official vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban, used a plate marked “GOVERNOR” instead of the official red plate issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

The team that conducted the checkpoint is composed of representatives from the Office of the Ombudsman, PNP, LTO, Commission on Audit, Philippine Information Agency and Civil Service Commission.

Apostol said he told the lady governor that they will apologize to Tupas if there were irregularities and lapses in the conduct of the checkpoint.

“But from my own investigation, the task force did not commit any lapses during the checkpoint. It is impossible that irregularities were committed because other government agencies and the media were present during the checkpoint,” Apostol said.

He added the team did not embarrass Tupas during the checkpoint which followed all the procedures.

Earlier, Evangeline Nuñal, Ombudsman associate graft investigation officer I, said proper signages were placed on both lanes of the Diversion Road and Luna, LaPaz.

Members of the task force also wore their uniforms and identification cards during the checkpoint, Nuñal added.

Nuñal said they placed tarpaulin banners in steel railings in Iloilo City to inform the public about their surprise checkpoints and inspections.

Apostol, who hails from Bugasong, Antique, said he will stand by the action of the task force.

“If we apologize even though we did not commit any irregularity, it will send the wrong impression to the public that we are not serious with our work and favoring some officials,” he added.

Apostol said they will not favor any official in the implementation of the red plate policy which checks the use of government vehicles.

Perez could not be reached for her comment.

This is not first time that Gov. Perez dipped her hands in the affairs of Iloilo City and province.

In 2006, she pushed for the renaming of the new Iloilo airport in the towns of Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan.

Early this year, Perez and four other governors in Western Visayas called for the cancellation of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued to the coal-fired power plant project of Global Business Power Corp. in Iloilo City.

Perez, who once embraced a coal-fired power plant proposed by a Korean firm, also called for the transfer of the P18-billion project outside of Iloilo City.

By Tara Yap

THE service vehicles of the mayor of Iloilo City and governor of Iloilo province were among the 13 government vehicles apprehended by the task force of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas during its Oplan Red Plate Campaign Friday night.

The task force disclosed that the service vehicles of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. evaded initial checkpoints and the team had to chase the vehicles until they caught up with said vehicles.

The task force explained it pursued the vehicles as they failed to stop at the designated checkpoint.

In a text message to the media, Treñas apologized for the incident saying they did not run away from the red plate checkpoint.

“It is unfortunate that my driver did not recognize it. I apologize if the people who were manning the checkpoint felt that way. I have no reason whatsoever to avoid the checkpoint,” the mayor said.

Tupas remains mum of the issue. Earlier, police took into custody the siren installed in the governor’s Nissan Patrol car following a traffic altercation in Jaro, Iloilo City with the son of a retired military official.

Tupas heaped five administrative charges against Jaro police chief Orly Gabinete for confiscating the siren.

But the PNP Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) pre-charge findings recommended to investigate Gabinete for abuse of authority.

The RIAS junked other charges of grave misconduct, ignorance of the law, gross incompetence and conduct unbecoming of a police officer.

The task force added that all government vehicles bearing red plates must have the name of the government agency or unit or local government with the “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) sign and must use a properly accomplished serially numbered trip ticket.

The only ones that are exempted from having the “FOUO” sign are government vehicles using security plates.

The Office of the Ombudsman is also reminding heads of local government units that are using plates only bearing their position is not allowed.  These includes government issued  vehicles that have plates of “GOVERNOR”, “VICE-GOVERNOR”, “MAYOR”, “VICE MAYOR”, “BRGY. CAPT.”

Exempted from these rules are security plates and special number plates of national officials from the President to cabinet secretaries (numbers 1 to 16).

Officials who are authorized to use these 13 apprehended vehicles will be summoned to explain the use of government vehicles after office hours on a Friday night.

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.

NEA says Artech-Ileco 3 PSA disadvantageous to coop

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

A FACT-finding team of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) recommended the scrapping of the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) and an independent power producer.

The report of the probe team headed by Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department chief, said the PSA between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. is “grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to the interests of the cooperative and its members-consumers.”

The team submitted its findings to NEA Administrator Edith Bueno June 5, a month after Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza revealed to Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo that he received P75,000 from Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Baldoza said in the May 5 interview that Tupas gave him the money during a meeting with Artech officials at the governor’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City.

The NEA probers said 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 team recommended the following actions to NEA board of administrators:

–         assign a NEA project supervisor at Ileco 3 to monitor the operations and transactions in the cooperative;

–         the PSA, upon the initiative of Ileco 3, be rescinded for being grossly disadvantageous and prejudicial to its interests;

–         investigate the notarized letter-complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers for proper action by NEA including, but not limited to, the preventive suspension of the Board Directors who voted for the PSA, either by active participation or tacit consent.

Edgardo Piamonte, NEA deputy administrator, confirmed that the team has submitted its report to the board for its approval.

Piamonte said a project coordinator will arrive in Ileco 3 Wednesday next week to start monitoring the cooperative’s operation.

Bribery

The NEA probers also found that bribery may have took place prior to the signing of the contract.

The finding was based on the sworn affidavit of Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla and Baldoza’s radio interview with Askyon Radyo.

The investigators said Arandilla’s affidavit is credible because he personally heard from Baldoza about the additional P75,000 from Artech after the signing of the contract April 21 in Iloilo City.

“Baldoza himself showed the envelope to Arandilla, who was asked by the former to count the contents thereof, amounting to P75,000. Stated differently, the portion of the affidavit on the ‘additional’ amount in the envelope was a product of the personal knowledge of Arandilla, and cannot be denominated as hearsay evidence. In point of fact, Arandilla – with the express consent of Baldoza, was even tasked to count the money inside the ‘additional’ envelope,” the report said.

While Baldoza changed his tune on who gave him money at Tupas’s house, his recantation “cannot obliterate the fact of bribery” in the deal.

“The ‘revision’ in the recantation of the Board President touches base only on the person who gave the money, as the latter pronouncements would tend to show that the same official/representative gave the first and second amounts. At bottom, whether it was the Governor or the Artech representative who gave him the first and the second envelopes is of no moment, as it refers only to the giver but does not, in any way, deny the act itself,” the report said.

Baldoza recently said he told the National Bureau of Investigation that Tupas handed him the money last April 17. 

No bidding; railroaded 

The NEA investigators said the Ileco 3 board failed to analyze the PSA that will bind Ileco 3 consumers to Artech in the next 25 years.

It was also noted that Artech was not among those IPPs which submitted bids to the consortium to supply power to seven electric cooperatives in Panay and Guimaras Islands.

“There was undue haste in entering into contract as it took only 16 days for the board to decide to ink the contract with Artech. When compared to the consortium, the period is very short, as it took them about four months to study and evaluate offers of the different IPPs. The duration of the contract is no less than 25 years, which would all the more necessitate the exercise of prudence to afford the members-consumers the best possible deal on the matter of electricity rates. Artech personnel furnished the members of the board copies of their proposed contract for study and evaluation on April 5, 2009 and was signed April 21, 2009,” the report said.

While the Ileco 3 board claimed that Artech presented its proposal during the board meeting March 18, “nothing can be found in the minutes of board meetings that a thorough and extensive deliberation/evaluation was ever conducted on an important issue, so as to warrant the signing of the contract.”

No contract review

The NEA probe team also scored the Ileco 3 board for failure to submit the contract to NEA for requisite review of its provisions.

The NEA report said this lack of NEA approval of the Ileco 3-Artech deal “raises the proverbial quizzical eyebrows, considering that a similar PSA was entered into by and between CAPELCO (Capiz Electric Cooperative) and the same IPP.”

“Why did Artech agree with CAPELCO to subject its PSA to contract review by NEA while totally shutting out NEA from reviewing its PSA with Ileco 3?” the NEA report said.

The investigators said NEA’s omission from the deal was “designed to ‘cut corners’ and expedite the signing of the contract, as referral of the PSA to NEA for review would further delay the signing and set back the timetable.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

IS ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas throwing his weight around Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chairman?

Reports from police sources said Tupas is lobbying for the removal of Supt. Hector Pabalan as director of the 609th Provincial Mobile Group (PMG) based in Dumangas, Iloilo.

Dumangas belongs to the 4th congressional district where Tupas will run for congressman against incumbent Rep. Ferjenel Biron in the 2010 polls.

Tupas is also lobbying for the removal of other ranking police officials he perceives to be  sympathetic to his political enemies in other areas of Iloilo province.

The governor is also allegedly pushing for the reinstatement of the controversial S/Insp. Leroy Rapiz.

The Police Regional Office (PRO-6) recently put Rapiz under preventive suspension relative to the administrative case filed by former Sara mayor Neptali Salcedo.

Salcedo accused Rapiz of harassing him in a checkpoint in the 5th district last year.  

Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Ronaldo Puno inducted Tupas as RPOC chair June 4 in Amigo Terrace Hotel.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director and RPOC vice chair, said he has heard reports that someone is lobbying for Pabalan’s removal from the PMG “but there is no formal request yet.”

“There might be insinuations in these reports but we have not received any formal request for the transfer of any officer in the province,” Cuevas said in a phone interview.

Cuevas said the RPOC has no power to seek the removal and assignment of police officers in Western Visayas.

“If the chairman or any member of the council has knowledge of scalawags in uniforms, they can refer it to my office for proper action. But the movement of officers is still the call of the PNP. If there are complaints against our officers, we will follow due process first,” Cuevas added.

Based on Executive Order 773 issued by President Gloria Arroyo January 5, 2009, the RPOC and other sub-national councils has the following responsibilities:

(a) Provide a forum for dialogue and deliberation of major issues and problems affecting peace and order, including insurgency;

(b) Recommend measures which will improve or enhance peace and order and public safety in their respective areas of responsibility, including anti-insurgency measures;

(c) Recommend measures to converge and orchestrate internal security operations efforts of civil authorities and agencies, military and police;

(d) Apply moral suasion to and/or recommend sanctions against local chief executives who are giving material and political support to the Communist rebels;

(e) Monitor the provision of livelihood and infrastructure development programs and projects in the remote rural and indigenous population areas adopted to isolate them from the Communist rebels’ “Agitate/Arouse, Organize and Mobilize” and ideological, political and organization works;

(f) Perform all other functions assigned by law, the President or the NPOC. 

Tupas also cited his being RPOC chair and “highest law enforcer in the province” when he lambasted C/Insp. Orly Gabinete for confiscating the siren of one of his vehicles.

Gabinete seized the siren after two bodyguards of the governor figured in a traffic altercation with Lile Tugbang Jr. in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Lile Jr. is the son of retired Army colonel Lile Tugbang Sr. who also ran for mayor in Barotac Viejo.

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 Lydia C. Pendon 

 

THE National Bureau of Investigation is set to conduct its separate investigation on the alleged bribery case involving directors of the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3, Applied Research Technologies Phils. Inc. (Artech) and Iloilo governor Niel D. Tupas Sr.

 

This developed after the National Electrification Administration (NEA) began its own investigation on the 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) between Ileco 3 and independent power producer (IPP) Artech.

Presidential Assistant Raul Banias said he was informed of the NBI entry into the bribery investigation to hasten and determine the culpability of the persons involved in the bribery case. 

 

 

 

It was reported that Artech gave P150,000 as bribe money to members of Ileco 3 board. This was confirmed by board president Mateo Baldoza and director Rene Arandilla. Baldoza said the bribery took place at the house of the Iloilo governor last April 17 and on April 21 at Finerock Hotel. In his first interview over Aksyon Radyo, Baldoza said it was Governor Tupas who gave him the first envelope containing half of the P150,000 but later modified his revelation saying it was actually a female employee of Artech.

 

Tupas denied he helped Artech bribe the board to have the 25-year power supply contract approved.

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.

RESIGN   Consumers hold placards calling for the resignation of Ileco 3 board of directors during the hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Tuesday on the alleged anomalous deal between the cooperative and Artech. (Photo by Tara Yap)

RESIGN Consumers hold placards calling for the resignation of Ileco 3 board of directors during the hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Tuesday on the alleged anomalous deal between the cooperative and Artech. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) has begun its investigation on the power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 and an independent power producer (IPP).

 

Atty. Omar Mayo of the NEA legal office leads the investigation on the deal between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

Assisting Mayo in the probe is Nixon Bautista, Electric Cooperative Operations Systems Audit Division OIC.

 

The investigating panel first looked for a copy of the 25-year PSA between Ileco 3 and Artech.

 

The panel also summoned Engr. Antonio Lazarraga, chief of Ileco 3 Technical Services Division, who made the comparative study and simulation of Artech’s proposal to the cooperative.

 

Lazarraga’s study showed that Artech’s generation charge will reach more than P8 per kilowatt-hour using diesel fired and biomass power plants.

 

The investigators also summoned Ileco 3 board secretary Joy Fuentes and the minutes of their special board meeting last April 21, the day the board approved and signed agreement.

 

Mayo said all resolutions passed by the Ileco 3 board must first be examined and approved by NEA before implementation.

 

In an earlier interview, Ileco 3 board legal counsel Edison Belloga said NEA approval of their resolutions is only ministerial in nature.

 

Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza will also be summoned to shed light on the alleged bribery of the cooperative directors in exchange for the approval of Artech’s proposal.

 

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

 

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

 

The former judge received another envelope with P75,000 cash from a female Artech worker April 21 after they approved and signed the PSA.

 

Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla said in his sworn affidavit that he counted the money Baldoza allegedly received from Artech on April 21.

 

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias said Baldoza also told him about the alleged pressures and bribe they receive from Artech and Tupas.

 

TUPAS IS MAD

 

Tupas continues to fend off the alleged bribery of Ileco 3 directors that happened in his house.

 

In his letter to NEA Administrator Edita Bueno, Tupas countered the “wild, malicious and patently false accusations made by Presidential Assistant Raul Banias.”

 

Banias wrote and met Bueno last week to ask for an investigation on the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

 

Tupas told Bueno that the alleged “bribery” is not true.

 

“I did not hand over to Atty. Baldoza anything, much more an envelope containing P75,000 in cash. The story was concocted to implicate me in this controversy and put the transaction in bad light. It is not true, as alleged by Asec. Banias in his letter, that Atty. Baldoza ‘repeatedly admitted publicly over the media’ that I gave him an envelope with P75,000 inside. Atty. Baldoza was interviewed only once when he made that statement. The next day, perhaps bothered by his conscience, he retracted his statement in another interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Nestor Burgos, Jr.,” the governor said.

 

The governor also questioned Baldoza’s credibility saying his supposed revelation is hearsay.

 

Tupas also defended the Ileco 3-Artech contract saying the IPP’s generation charge is P6.64 per kwh for the first three years for power generated by a diesel-fueled plant it will put up, and then P5.90 per kwh from a biomass power plant that is expected to be operational by 2013. 

 

Artech’s rates are cheaper compared to other IPPs that are putting up power plants in Iloilo, Tupas said.

 

“Clearly, there is no such thing as overpriced power rates. Besides, the PSA will still have to pass through the scrutiny of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). The issue is without basis,” he added.

 

Tupas cautioned NEA against making any “hasty and precipitate actions that would be prejudicial to the public interest.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Sangguniang Bayan of Sara, Iloilo unanimously approved a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry on the alleged bribery of Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco 3) board of directors in exchange for the approval of a power supply deal with an independent power producer (IPP).

 

The Sara municipal board passed Resolution No. 7-2009 during its regular session May 11, 2009. It urged the House committee on legislative franchises to conduct an inquiry on the contract between Ileco 3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

The committee on legislative franchises has jurisdiction on matters directly and principally relating to the grant, amendment, extension or revocation of franchises to sectors such as power, telecommunication, media broadcast, among others.

 

The board said member-consumers of Ileco 3, including residents of Sara, were shocked with the admission of Ileco 3 board president Mateo Baldoza over the media that he allegedly received P75,000 from Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and Artech in two separate occasions.

 

Baldoza would later modify his statement saying a female employee of Artech gave the money to him in a meeting with officials of the IPP at Tupas house in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

 

Tupas also denied bribing Baldoza and exerting pressure on the board to approve and sign the 25-year power supply agreement (PSA) with Artech.

 

The second tranche of the purported bribe money was given to Baldoza April 21 after the board approved and signed the PSA at Fine Rock Hotel in Iloilo City.

 

The resolution said Ileco 3 approved and signed the deal “with extraordinary haste and speed” sans prior consultation with the cooperative’s technical personnel or management.

 

The SB also quoted the comparative study and simulation of Ileco 3’s Technical Services Department which “glaringly revealed” that the proposals of Artech in the PSA are “most grossly disadvantageous to Ileco 3 consumers as it offers the highest power rate.”

 

The SB also hit Ileco 3 directors for approving the deal despite the fact that Artech did not participate in the bidding conducted by the Panay-Guimaras power consortium.

 

The action of the Ileco 3 board, the resolution said, violated the provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 which directs cooperatives and distribution utilities to look for cheapest sources of power though a competitive process such as bidding.

 

The resolution also questioned the failure of the Ileco 3 board to submit the PSA to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for review prior to the approval and signing of the contract.

 

Aside from the congressional inquiry, the SB also passed another resolution asking NEA to investigate the deal between Ileco 3 and Artech.

 

Other towns in the 5th congressional district covered by the Ileco 3 franchise are also planning to pass their respective resolutions seeking the revocation of the PSA and investigation on the alleged bribery issue.

 

The resolutions were presented to the fact-finding investigation conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Tuesday in Sara covered gym.

 

NEA administrator Edita Bueno confirmed with The Daily Guardian that they dispatched a team of investigators to look into the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

 

Sources from Ileco 3 said the investigating team, composed of technical and legal personnel of NEA, will also look into Artech’s deal with Capiz Electric Cooperative.

 

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias, who also sent a letter complaint to Bueno, said he welcomes the House inquiry which will complement the ongoing NEA investigation.

 

Banias, a former mayor of Concepcion which is under Ileco 3, had confirmed Baldoza’s first statement that the latter received money from Tupas during the April 17 meeting.

 

“Administrator Bueno vowed to go into the bottom of this issue and impose the necessary actions. If the contract is proven onerous, the NEA can dismiss the entire Ileco 3 board,” Banias 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

 

ILOILO Governor Niel Tupas Sr. indeed arranged the meeting between the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 board of directors and officials of an independent power producer (IPP) at his house in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

 

In an interview in the weekly cable TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday, provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said Tupas initiated the meeting between the Ileco 3 board and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech) to address the looming power crisis in Iloilo.

 

“It is the habit of Governor Tupas to expedite matters when things go slow. He was worried that by 2010, Ileco 3 will have no more power supply because its transition power contract with the National Power Corp. will expire December 2010,” Mejorada said.

 

Engr. Reynaldo Uy, Artech president, said Ileco 3 director Asur Salcedo invited him to meet the board headed by former judge Mateo Baldoza at Tupas’ house in MV Hechanova, Jaro last April 17.

 

Uy said the meeting was set after Tupas learned that the board has yet to act on Artech’s 25-year power supply agreement after three months.

 

“Governor Tupas asked the board about our deal and president Baldoza said the offer was good. The governor then said that we must settle the matter because he will be leaving for his office,” Uy said.

 

Uy said the board told him that they will meet April 21 to decide which IPP to choose.

 

The Artech official denied that money changed hands during the meeting at Tupas’ house and the April 21 meeting at Fine Rock Hotel in Iloilo City.

 

Uy’s denial contradicts the claims of Baldoza that he received money from Artech during the two meetings.

 

Baldoza initially implicated Tupas as the one who handed him the money. But he later modified that statement saying it was a female Artech employee who gave him an envelope containing P75,000 cash.

 

Baldoza said he wanted more time to study Artech’s offer because the comparative study of their Technical Support Department showed that the IPP’s generation rate of P8.per kilowatt-hour 56 is expensive compared to other power producers.

 

But Uy said their rates are lower compared to other IPPs that made offers to the Panay-Guimaras power consortium – P6.64 per kWh for the diesel plant and P5.90 per kWh for the biomass plant.

 

Artech will supply power to Ileco 3 from a diesel-fired power plant starting December 2010. Between 2010 and 2013, the firm will construct a 5-megawatt biomass plant which will operate as baseload power plant.

Ileco 3 management team urges NEA to suspend ‘bribed’ directors

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

SAYING they were ashamed with the issues hounding Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3, the management team asked the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to preventively suspend and probe the cooperative’s board of directors (BoD).

 

In a letter to NEA Administrator Edita Bueno dated May 11, 2009, the management team headed by Dory Jane Canones, Finance Services Department manager, asked the agency to investigate the alleged bribery of the BoD for the approval of the 25-year power supply deal with an independent power producer.

 

The alleged bribery happened twice, according to board president and former judge Mateo Baldoza – April 17 at the house of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. and April 21 during their special board meeting in Iloilo City.

 

Baldoza claimed receiving a total of P150,000 although he later retracted his first statement that Tupas gave him P75,000 at the latter’s house in Jaro, Iloilo City when they met with officials of Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

 

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas and Ileco 3 director Rene Arandilla confirmed Baldoza’s first statement that the retired judge received money from Tupas and Artech.

 

Pending the investigation of the Ileco 3 board, the management team requested NEA to send a project supervisor and preventively suspend members of the board who were present in Tupas’ house to accept the alleged bribe.

 

Aside from Baldoza, also present in the meeting at the Tupas mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City were BoD vice president Emmanuel Pacardo, secretary Joy Fuentes, treasurer Asur Salcedo and Achilles Pama.

 

Those who did not show up were Arandilla and Vincent Frances Espinosa.

 

The management team said they were humiliated by the scandal that wracked the cooperative and sparked the ire of the consumers over the deal with Artech.

 

They said they were surprised with the indignation displayed by Ileco 3 consumers during a rally at the cooperative’s office in Sara, Iloilo last May 9.

 

“While our employees staged a black protest by wearing black shirts and black band during the coop’s annual general assembly meeting, we were not prepared for the indignation that the consumers showed during that day. We were never so ashamed in our life,” the letter said.

 

  1. The management team also hit the majority of the Ileco 3 board for their “vindictiveness, encroachment on otherwise purely management prerogatives and high-handed ways in dealing with coop employees who are perceived to be against them.”   

 

They also opposed the board’s designation of Aida Lamigo as permanent OIC because of her questionable competence and involvement in the missing P1million in Ileco 3 funds.

 

“We will do our share in bringing justice to those that betrayed our member-consumers. We will bring to your attention the pronouncements and the calls of alls sectors in our communities. We will try to rebuild the trust and confidence of everyone that took years to earn. Please help us find justice for Ileco 3,” the management team said.

 

Those who signed the letter were Ana Maria Bagsit, OIC assistant general manager; Engr. Antonio Lazarraga, Technical Services Department manager; Apolojandro Sicad, Sara Area Office manager; Lanie Velasco, Natividad Area Office OIC; Consorcia Peñaranda, Institutional Services Department manager; Cirilo Jerry Pacardo, Panian (Balasan) Area office OIC; and Engr. Raim Villarias, Ileco 3 Multipurpose Cooperative president.

 

Information from NEA said the board of administrators is deliberating on the management team’s letter before sending a three-man fact finding team to Iloilo.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE management of Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC) told its detractors not to drag the firm in the Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 3 bribery mess.

 

Engr. Adrian Moncada, GBPC vice president for commercial operations, said the company has nothing to do with the Artech mess. He was reacting to news items that Engr. Gil Altamira, GBPC commercial business manager, had something to do with the privilege speech of Board Member Rett Rojas calling for an investigation on the Ileco 3 issue.

 

Moncada said Rojas and Altamira are already friends even before the latter worked for GBPC.

 

He said Altamira is familiar with the operations of Ileco 3 and the bidding conducted by the Panay-Guimaras power consortium reason why Rojas asked inputs from him.

 

Moncada also disputed the claims of Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada that GBPC and DMCI offered P7.36 per kilowatt hour to the Panay-Guimaras power consortium.

 

Mejorada claimed that GBPC-DMCI’s price was higher than the P6.64 per kilowatt hour proposed by Applied Research Technologies of the Philippines (Artech), Inc.

 

But Moncada said their offer to the consortium was P4.60 per kWh at 75% load factor. In the electricity industry, load factor is a measure of the output of a power plant compared to the maximum output it could produce.

 

Moncada said they did not offer P7.36 per kWh to the consortium.

 

“That figure of P7.36 per kWh is the assumption of the consortium’s technical consultant, not ours. The consultant assumed that we will use Newcastle bituminous coal in producing electricity. But we will use Semirara sub-bituminous coal which is cheaper. Our offer has always been P4.60 per kWh at 75% load factor which is the ideal industry standard,” Moncada added.

 

Moncada said that when the consortium leveled the load factor at 100%, similar to the offers of renewable energy firms, “our price will even go down to P3.98 per kWh.”

 

“Computing the price of electricity is not simple arithmetic. There are factors that must be considered before we can come up with the numbers. I suggest they check their facts,” Moncada said.

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