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NEA dismisses 7 directors of Sorsogon electric cooperative

By Bobby Q. Labalan

Seven members of the Board of Directors of the Sorsogon Electric Cooperative II (Soreco II) were ordered dismissed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) after they were found guilty of serious neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the cooperative and its member-consumers.

Ordered removed from their posts were: Soreco II Board of Directors (BOD) Chairman Engr. Dominador; and BOD members Thomas Diesta; Myrna Trinanes; Maria Surbano; Demosthenes Reverente; Celestial Torella; and Eduardo Lleva.

The dismissal order includes disqualification from reemployment or to run for BOD position in any electric cooperative in the country and forfeiture of their remaining monetary benefits from the electric coop.

The case against the members of the Soreco II BOD stemmed

from the amicable settlement the Board entered into with spouses Romeo San Jose and Nancy San Jose involving the four thousand two hundred -square-meter property of the electric cooperative in Barangay Danlog, Pilar, Sorsogon where one of its sub-station is currently located.

In his complaint filed with the NEA, Erwin Escanilla accused the directors of dishonest conduct when they authorized lawyer Percival Alvarez through Board Resolution 219, the former general manager, to enter into a settlement with the San Joses wherein the cooperative only got 1,800 square meters, while the other party got 2,400 square meters despite earlier court decision favoring the ownership claim of the cooperative over the entire property.

Based on the record of the case, the property was acquired by Soreco II from Sostenes Marifosque and Natalia Concepcion on Dec. 12, 1978, but sometime in 2012, a certain Divinia Malaga filed a case for unlawful detainer against the cooperative before the Municipal Trial Court of Pilar, which was subsequently dismissed by the judge.

However, on July 28, 2015, the Malaga family sold a parcel of lot covered by a land title with a total area of 2.115 hectares in favor of the San Joses, which apparently included the Soreco II property. The new owners later filed a case for annulment of contract against the cooperative through lawyer Jonathan Balintong. But when the initial trial began in January 2018, lawyer Clarissa Yap-Calamdag appeared to represent the San Jose spouse.

When the case was again heard two years later on July 2018, Calamdag manifested that an amicable settlement might be possible since a new BOD had been elected, and true enough, during the next hearing, both parties jointly manifested that they have reached an amicable settlement. On Dec. 4, 2018, Calamdag filed a motion to approve compromise agreement which was granted by the court.

In examining the facts of the case, the NEA noted that the entry of Calamdag into the case in January 2018 coincided with the assumption into office of respondents Escoto and Diesta, and just months later, on June 2018, the lawyer manifested the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. The agency, likewise, pointed out the haste with which the BOD passed Resolution No. 219 approving the execution of the settlement offered by the San Joses through Calamdag.

The NEA stressed the failure of the BOD to exercise due diligence in dealing with the other party as the respondents threw caution to the wind as they gratuitously waived the ownership rights over the 2,400 square meters of commercial lot.

The NEA pointed out that the property had been in the possession of the cooperative for more than 40 years now and was lost in an instant by the mere signatures of the respondents. Based on the land valuation, the 2,400-square-meter property is now valued at P18 million.

To add insult to injury, the BOD then hired Calamdag, the lawyer of the San Joses responsible for the assailed amicable settlement, as the new counsel of the cooperative just 10 days after they concluded the deal, which resulted to the huge financial loss for Soreco II, the NEA noted.

The agency directed the coop’s general manager and the human resources department head to immediately implement the decision.

Peter Jumamil, one of the BOD member, was excluded from the dismissal order as he was able to prove that he was absent when the Board deliberated and approved the subject resolution. Diesta, an employee of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), was spared the penalties as he had earlier been disqualified as Soreco II director, because the salary grade of his position exceeded what is allowed by law.


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