Celso, multi-stakeholders act to prevent Zamcelco crisis PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 June 2011 17:41

Mayor Celso Lobregat Wednesday night convened an emergency meeting of multi-stakeholders in the city to come up with unified solutions amidst the predicament besetting the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) caused by the recent removal of the general manager and the board of directors.

Foremost in the decisions reached during the 2-hour long meeting in City Hall were the recommendation for the NEA to postpone the general assembly of Zamcelco set on Sunday, June 19 to a later date and call for an election for replacement of dismissed board members who still have an unexpired term of 2 years or more.

The group also asked NEA to immediately conduct the election for the position of Zamcelco’s 1st district director, Leandro Macatangay who passed away April 10, 2011 or one month prior to the promulgation of the decision on NEA-administrative case no. 02-12-10. The group likewise recommended that “if there is an urgent need for an appointment of a temporary board to act on matters necessitating immediate Board action, their appointment to the temporary board shall be in accordance with the guidelines on the conduct of Electric Cooperative District Elections, NEA memorandum 2005-12 and Zamcelco by-laws”.

The appointment shall not be more than 90 days, provided further that those appointed to the temporary board shall be prohibited from running for the same position in the immediately succeeding election, the group said.

The meeting held in City Hall was attended by over 50 people including House Deputy Speaker Beng Climaco, members of the Council committee on energy, and public utilities, other city officials, 3 remaining Zamcelco board of directors, National Electrification Administration (NEA) officials assigned to Zamcelco, representatives from the multi-sectoral group for better Zamcelco (MGBZ) members of the academe and representatives from the business sector, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, urban poor, socio-civic and other non-government organizations and Archbishop Romulo Valles.

The meeting came a day after Mayor Lobregat received a copy of a separate decision dated May 25, 2011 of the NEA on the imposition of penalty of removal of all respondents in the administrative case against Zamcelco with the MGBZ as intervenors.

In a press briefing yesterday morning, Mayor Lobregat said with the NEA ruling, the office of the board of directors of Zamcelco shall not have a quorum and ceases to function since only one member, Efren Perez, remains, while two newly-elected members—Elbert Atilano and Agustin Graciano—have yet to formally assume their post. 

The mayor read to the media a letter he sent to NEA Administrator Edita Bueno and Project Supervisor and Acting Zamcelco GM Engr. Jesus Castro submitting the recommendations arrived at during the meeting Wednesday night. 

Copies of City Council resolution 610 expressing sentiment that “whoever sits in the Board of Zamcelco must have the mandate of the member-consumers by way of calling simultaneous elections in the affected districts as early as possible so that they could act appropriately on matters that confront Zamcelco” and Council resolution 611 requesting the Zamcelco acting general manager through the mayor “to postpone the holding of the general assembly slated on June 19, 2011, until a quorum of the Board is constituted”—all approved during the august body’s session on June 15, 2011, were also attached in the letter to the NEA.

The June 19 Zamcelco general assembly is provided for in the cooperative’s by-laws and has been set prior to the release of the NEA decision.
The NEA decision on the administrative case against the Zamcelco management and board of directors stemmed from Mayor Lobregat’s request July last year for NEA to conduct a fair, accurate and comprehensive audit of the operations of Zamcelco in the light of alleged controversies afflicting the cooperative. 

The mayor officially wrote NEA Administrator Edith Bueno July 5, 2010 requesting the agency to do the audit based on authorization granted to him by the City Council.

The NEA approved the request, sent an audit team (to probe on Zamcelco operations covering the period September 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010) which later rendered its audit report. The said report became the basis for the MGBZ to file the administrative case against Zamcelco officials.

Aside from removing Zamcelco general manager Reinerio Ramos and the board of directors, the NEA board of administrators also ordered the forfeiture of Ramos’ retirement benefits and the perpetual disqualification of the respondents from holding office in any rural electric cooperative. — Sheila Covarrubias