Negros Occidental

NEA: 14 NOCECO officers liable for alleged improper spending

Erwin Delilan

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NEA: 14 NOCECO officers liable for alleged improper spending

NEA CHIEF. NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda.

NEA Facebook page

NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda says is was based on an audit on the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative that covered its operations from August 1, 2019 to April 30, 2023

BACOLOD, Philippines –The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has found 14 officers of the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) for alleged improper disbursements.

NEA announced this in a virtual press conference and identified 14 as the following:

  • Jonas Discaya – former general manager
  • Ray Bustamante – former general manager
  • Richard A. Benedicto
  • Raymundo A. Tongson Jr.
  • Reynaldo G. Bedaure Jr.
  • Eduardo Benjamin A. Alonso
  • Rolito E. Espinosa
  • John Peter Z. Millan
  • Elbert L. Magbato
  • Rey Ronald E. Cabalde
  • Edmund P. Arceo
  • Ma. Rama Espinosa
  • Allan Paul Mirasol
  • Jose Emeric Jabagat (deceased)

NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda said the agency audit, which covered the period August 1, 2019 to April 30, 2023, was conducted in June 2023.

“NOCECO’s Board of Directors were found to have unduly granted themselves at least P65,534,504.20, representing numerous allowances and benefits,” NEA said.

“Former GM Discaya was found to have been unduly granted and received at least P20,128,907.28, representing improper increases in his salary and per diems as a CM of NOCECO, excess gratuity pay, travel expenses and other benefits,” the agency added.

In the case of Bustamante, NEA said that he was “found to have been unduly granted and received at least P2,127,111.00 representing undue increase in his salary and per diems as a supposed GM of NOCECO, as well as other unwarranted benefits.”

NEA said its Electric Cooperative Audit Division (ECAD) found that improper disbursements were made by the NOCECO management and the board of directors classified due to the following: “(a) For being above and beyond the allowable thresholds under the relevant NEA Rules and Guidelines; (b)or being made without NEA’s explicit approval; and (c) despite NOCECO’s attention being called in previous audit findings, for being made with the deliberate failure to submit the appropriate Board Resolutions required by NEA to evaluate the fund disbursements.”

On this basis the NEA-ECAD endorsed its findings to the NEA Administrative Committee (ADCOM).

The NEA-ADCOM then conducted a motu proprio investigation on the case in accordance with due process and its Administrative Rules of Procedure.

On the basis of the NEA-ADCOM’s report and recommendation, the NEA Board of Administrators issued a decision on April 18, 2024, which imposed on the NOCECO officers the penalties of removal from service, forfeiture of monetary benefits, and disqualification from reinstatement or reemployment or tp run as candidate for director in any electric cooperative in the country.

Almeda said NEA has referred the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) “for the possible prosecution of criminal liabilities.”

Millan, one the 14 NOCECO officers, said in an interview with Rappler on Tuesday, April 23, that they plan to file a motion for reconsideration.

“All our spendings are within the orb of our constitution and by-laws duly approved by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), and such also passed the audit of CDA,” he said. “So, there’s nothing irregular, therefore.”

He also cited the lack of harmony between the Cooperative Development Authority and the NEA, and that NOCECO and its officials were caught in the middle of the current friction between the two.–

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