11 electric cooperatives face fraud charges
Alleging fraud, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has asked 11 electric cooperatives to remit a total of P238.3 million in universal charge collections from consumers that the state-run firm failed to receive from them.
In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said PSALM sent final demand letters to the following delinquent cooperatives: Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative Inc., which had P66.3 million in unremitted universal charge collections; Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. (P40.6 million); Abra Electric Cooperative Inc. (P36.9 million); Basilan Electric Cooperative Inc. (P31.5 million); Maguindanao Electric Cooperative Inc., or Magelco (P26.3 million); Ticao Island Electric Cooperative, or Tiselco (P9.4 million); Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc., or Lasureco (P8.7 million); Cotabato Electric Cooperative Inc.-PPALMA (P7.4 million); Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc. (P4.9 million); Romblon Electric Cooperative Inc. (P3.5 million); and Siasi Electric Cooperative, or Siaselco (P2.8 million).
The DOF said officials of the cooperatives would face administrative, civil and criminal charges if they failed to remit their universal charge collections to PSALM.
The DOF said Lasureco, Magelco, Siaselco and Tiselco had also “refused to submit the required monthly universal charge collection reports to PSALM” in violation of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)-issued guidelines.
Since these four cooperatives had incomplete reports, their unremitted universal charge collections were likely even higher than the amounts being demanded by PSALM, the DOF said.
“Nonremittance of universal charge collections to PSALM is fraud perpetrated against the consumers who paid for the universal charge and against the government that is mandated to use the universal charge in accordance with Epira,” PSALM president and chief executive Irene Joy Besido Garcia was quoted by the DOF as saying, referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.
“The universal charge is a nonbypassable charge collected from electricity consumers on a monthly basis by distribution utilities, including cooperatives, for the recovery of stranded debts, stranded contract costs of the National Power Corp. and other mandated purposes under the Epira. Such universal collections must be remitted to PSALM as administrator on or before the 15th day of the succeeding month together with the required reports,” the DOF explained.
“Every month of deficient universal charge remittance is one count of estafa. After sending out the demand letters, PSALM has the right to pursue the necessary legal steps against the co-ops and their officers and directors without any further notice to them,” Garcia said.
“PSALM will continue to relentlessly pursue all efforts to collect what is legally due to it. It will not allow delinquent co-ops to get away with the illegal use and misappropriation of the universal charge collections,” according to Garcia.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III chairs PSALM’s board of directors.
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