By Rea Cu & Manuel T. Cayon
AT least P238.3 million in universal charge (UC) collections from consumers was unremitted to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) by 11 electric cooperatives, the Department of Finance (DOF) has reported.
PSALM has sent out demand letters to these cooperatives, the DOF said in a statement on Sunday.
The letters bore a stern warning that aside from being liable for interest charges, these cooperatives and their officers will face civil, administrative and criminal charges.
“Nonremittance of UC collections to PSALM is fraud perpetrated against the consumers who paid for the UC and against the government that is mandated to use the UC in accordance with Epira [Electric Power Industry Reform Act]. 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 illegal use and misappropriation of the UC collections,” said PSALM President and CEO Irene Joy Besido-Garcia.
PSALM reminded delinquent cooperatives that every month of nonremittance of UC is one count of violation of the Epira, which is punishable by fines and penalties of up to P50 million.
In addition, the directors and officers who allowed such violation by the cooperatives may be liable for imprisonment of up to two years and/or fine of double the amount of the damages caused.
PSALM also stressed that nonremittance of UC is tantamount to Estafa by misappropriation under the Revised Penal Code, and, thus, punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years.
5 from Mindanao
Five of the nonremitting electric cooperatives were in Mindanao: Maguindanao Electric Cooperative Inc. (Magelco), under President Saikuna Mamokhan, with unremitted UC collections of at least P26.28 million based only on available reports; Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Lasureco), under General Manager Nordjiana Ducol, with unremitted UC collections of at least P8.685 million; and Siasi (Sulu) Electric Cooperative (Siaselco), under President Tawita Baridji, with unremitted UC collections of at least P2.764 million;
Basilan Electric Cooperative Inc. (Baselco), led by its President Nick Acdalin, with P31.531 million unremitted UC collections; and Cotabato Electric Cooperative Inc.-PPALMA (Cotelco-PPALMA), led by its President Ernesto Mansilla, with P7.428 million unremitted UC collections.
They were among the 11 nonremitting electric cooperatives topbilled by Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative Inc. (Casureco III) with the highest unremitted UC collections amounting to P66.281 million. The demand letter was addressed to Casureco III Chairman Ana Sylvia Alsisto and other officers.
Casureco III was followed by Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. (Aleco) at P40.6 million and Abra Electric Cooperative Inc. (Abreco), at P36.886 million. Other nonremitters: Ticao Electric Cooperative (Tiselco) with unremitted UC collections of at least P9.421 million; Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc. (Maselco) with P4.917 million; and Romblon Electric Cooperative Inc. (Romelco) with P3.456 million.
The UC is a non-bypassable 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.
The UC collections must be remitted to PSALM as administrator on or before the 15th day of the succeeding month together with the required reports.
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) were also provided copies of PSALM’s demand letters.