THE TRUTH HAS TO BE TOLD: On PHILRECA’s foolish taking of funds from electric coop consumers
I am the General Manager of CASURECO I and Chairman of the Task Force Duterte-Rinconada Power in CASURECO III. Until December 2018, I was the President of the Bicol Electric Cooperatives Association (BECA) for more than 3 years, and in that same period, was a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Electric Cooperatives Association of the Philippines (PHILRECA). 1 was elected as its Secretary of the Board but eventually resigned on May 4, 2018.
On February 22, 2019, I was elected as President of the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (NAGMEC)-Region V Chapter.
In my almost 8 years as General Manager of CASURECO I, I believe I have done well serving our people and communities, guided by my values, my convictions and my faith. I have long been a leader and staunch supporter of TRUTH, JUSTICE and simply put, of RIGHT is right.
Today, I am speaking alone but takes courage from the strong support of the members of the Board of CASURECO I and III, and of the employees of both electric cooperatives (ECs), and most of all, our member-consumers.
PHILRECA is the umbrella organization of 121 ECs and is the custodian of more or less P190M Escrow Account of ECs that serves as these coops’ security deposit with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. When an electric coop is short of funds to pay for its NGCP bill, that coop can borrow from this Escrow Account.
PHILRECA subsists from the annual dues/contribution of its member-coops, computed at Pl.OO/per billed consumer. Another source of income is its 30% share from the annual interest earnings of the Escrow Account.
This 2019 national elections, PHILRECA decided to join the party-list contest purportedly for the protection of member-consumer-owners’ rights and safeguarding of electric cooperatives franchises by having warm bodies in Congress. Not content with one, it added 3 other party-lists: APEC, RECOBODA and AKO PADAYON.
To ensure at least 4 representatives, the strategy is to divide the campaign for these 4 party-lists among the 121 member-ECs.
On the last week of April, 2019,1 was the subject of accusatory and defamatory text messages being circulated among electric cooperatives, by 4 anonymous cellphone numbers, bearing the same text message, with the intent of ruining my name, crushing my reputation and destroying the worthy accomplishments of my coop, CASURECOI.
The text message, among other accusations brands me as ‘TRAYDOR’ of the program because I am being suspected of having given documents to the NASECORE’s (a consumer group) petition for disqualification of 4 party-lists, namely, PHILRECA, APEC, RECOBODA and AKO PADAYON. These documents are Board Resolutions of several electric cooperatives duly approved by NE A Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong, contributing millions of pesos to the campaign funds of these 4 party-lists.
Lest this be misconstrued as a retaliatory act, THIS IS NOT. I believe I had this coming to me, and could be the start of worse things to come. I was vocal with my comments on PHILRECA operations, did not shave-off money from employees’ incentives, was giving just a token participation in PHILRECA campaigns for fear of persecution.
I am speaking now because truth has to be told. When one finds reason to stand, even if one is a lone, lonely voice, he will rise to speak for what is essential. This is one disclosure that has to be done, for it has been weighing heavily in my mind and my heart, affecting my sworn duty to all rural electrification CONSUMERS because their rights to their property are being violated. What was happening in PHILRECA was so unconscionable which made me decide to quit my post as Board Secretary on May, 2018 and paved the way for my own exit from the PHILRECA Board on December, 2018 :
1. Concerted and imprudent taking of funds from EC consumers. Early this year at a NAGMEC Meeting, a sheet was distributed to regional association presidents, detailing the amount that each EC should contribute in order to raise P70M campaign funds. Region V was to raise P5.5M. CASURECO I was to contribute P489,000.00+. To me it was a serious matter. Fearful of being singled-out if CASURECOI does not contribute, I regularly monitored the activities of other ECs’ compliance with these campaign contributions so that I could also give a prudent recommendation to the Board of CASURECO I for fear of reprisal,
2. PHILRECA during one Board Meeting outlined the strategy of raising more funds. The ECs shall approve board resolutions granting year-end incentives for their employees and the NEA Administrator shall surely approve these. Once approved, the payroll for the incentives shall indicate the full amount, employees shall sign, but they will only be given half of the amount indicated in the payroll. Example: P10,000.00 is indicated in the payroll but the employee shall only receive P5,000.00. The P5,000.00/employee shall be remitted to PHILRECA. If the EC has 200 employees @ P5,000.00, this will be Pl,000,000.00 per EC.
I asked the Presiding Officer, will these contributions be issued with Official Receipts, I was answered NO, there will be no Official Receipts.
3. Bluntly, member-ECs are being directed to spend for the campaign of the 4 party-lists, paying for tarpaulins, t-shirts, campaign materials such as flyers, handbills, radio ads, membership meetings etc. The money for these activities shall come from the EC General Fund, to be charged as Institutional Activities. This is aside from the monetary contributions.
Compliance by ECs is being closely monitored by PHILRECA-designated Political Officers that are spread per region, throughout the country.
4. EC employees are being directed to commit 40 names of sure-voters for the PHILRECA party-list (and the 3 other party-lists) and EC GMs and Director’s are to commit 500 names of sure-voters. There are forms being distributed by PHILRECA that should be accomplished by the employees. This takes away the basic right to suffrage of the EC employees and officers.
5. Incomplete Financial Reports and depletion of PHILRECA funds was my constant concern and worry when I was still a member of the Philreca Board. I questioned the unauthorized withdrawal of P11M+ from the ESCROW earnings. The rumors of movements in the ESCROW account could not be properly explained by the General Manager. I pushed for the conduct of audit by an independent firm, and for transparency in the status of the ESCROW Account.
6. The appointment of PHILRECA GM and Executive Director, Atty. Janeene D. Colingan came like lightning and thunder, closely following the resignation of then GM Wendell Ballesteros. It did not follow standard hiring procedures and records would show conflicting dates in her appointment.
7. On campaign sorties, PHILRECA repeatedly cites that it will fight attempts and continue to protect ECs against those wanting to take over their franchises. The example they always present is the Bicol Light and Power Corporation’s threat to the franchise of CASURECO III. Why then is a Senior Officer of BENECO, who openly avowed support to Bicol Light and Power and admitted to being Bicol Li ght’ s Consultant, mostly present during Strategic Meetings? How many times were these meetings held in BENECO ?
8. Lastly, there are contradicting claims on protecting member-consumers’ rights against abusing the rights of consumers by using ECs funds owned by these very same member-consumers.
NOW, I am being persecuted by these people because I did not join them in their acts of hideously and unlawfully taking member-consumers’ funds. They faulted me for requesting for documents which are of public records. They spread lies and threats, but I vow that I will protect the member-consumers who are faithfully toiling in finding ways to pay for their electricity consumption. The same consumers who are the reason for our being as worker of the rural electrification program.
I close with the hope that this will bring about changes in the program especially in the protection of employees and member-consumers rights, in securing the assets and property of ECs and their member-consumers, of raising EC officers that will truly be vanguards of courage and truth. No skill of body, nor brilliance of mind can ever replace integrity.
ANA SYLVIA M. ALSISTO