NEA dismisses NOCECO execs, says P87M improperly disbursed

NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda (center) at the press conference that was shown live on the NEA Facebook page on Tuesday.*

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has ordered the removal from office of 12 members of the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) board of directors for awarding themselves P65,534,504.20 in various allowances and benefits that NEA considers “unauthorized and invalid”.

It also cited two former managers of NOCECO in Kabankalan City in its decision for “involvement in the improper disbursements” and for unduly receiving P22.2 million, NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda said at a press conference on Tuesday, April 23.

The NEA Board of Administrators in a decision against the 14 dated April 18 meted the penalty of removal from office, the accessory penalty of disqualification from reinstatement or reemployment in any electric cooperative or to run as a candidate for a director position in any EC, and the forfeiture of their monetary benefits.

NEA has included in the decision the referral of the matter to the Department of Justice for the possible prosecution of criminal liabilities.

The NEA’s Audit Department from June 1 to 29 conducted a Comprehensive Operations Audit of NOCECO, covering its operations from Aug. 1, 2019 to April 30, 2023.

The Audit Report found that improper disbursements were made by the NOCECO Management and Board of Directors, Almeda said.

The disbursements were classified as “improper” for being above and beyond the allowable thresholds under the relevant NEA rules and guidelines and without NEA’s explicit approval, despite
NOCECO’s attention being called in previous audit findings, he said.

The records of the case cited the involvement of 12 directors of NOCECO identified as 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, and Ma. Rama Espinosa, Allan Paul Mirasol and Jose Emeric Jabagat (deceased), Almeda said.

Among other officers, NOCECO’s former General Manager (GM) Jonas F. Discaya and Engr. Ray V. Bustamante were also shown to have been involved in the improper disbursements covered by the Audit Report, he said.

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 GM of NOCECO, excess gratuity pay, travel expenses and other benefits, Almeda said.

Discaya would eventually retire, and NOCECO’s Board would
supposedly “appoint” Bustamante as the supposed GM of the cooperative, again in blatant disregard of the NEA’s rules and guidelines, he said.

Bustamante was also found to have benefitted from the numerous unwarranted salaries, incentives, and monetary benefits involved in the audit, Almeda added.

Bustamante was found to have allegedly been unduly granted and received at least P2,127,111.00, representing the undue increase in his salary and per diems as a supposed GM of NOCECO, as well as other unwarranted benefits, Almeda said.*

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