City Hall coop racks up ₱55.809M in unpaid debts

Eighteen members and officers of the Iloilo City Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative took out more than 300 loans from 2016 to the present. The outstanding debt owed to the Land Bank of the Philippines is more than P55 million. (Francis Allan Angelo photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

A member of Iloilo City’s Sangguniang Panlungsod on Wednesday named officers of the Iloilo City Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ICGEMPC) embroiled in the “loan mess” besetting the cooperative.

Councilor Romel Duron used his privilege speech during the city council’s regular session to express frustration over the situation.

He cited data sent to his office, which enumerated the top 18 ICGEMPC members and officers who took out more than 300 loans from 2016 to the present.

Topping the list is the suspended chairperson of the cooperative’s board of directors, former City Human Resources Office chief Leo Elevencione, who had 20 loans amounting to ₱7.84 million.

One of Duron’s colleagues, Councilor Alan Zaldivar, was also on the list after incurring 6 loans totaling ₱1.26 million.

The ICGEMPC has an ₱80-million total credit line for loans facilitated through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

Duron questioned how the 18 cooperative officers and members were able to contract multiple loans sans paying their old obligations.

“Normally, if you cannot pay your first loan, you should be prohibited or you should not be allowed to secure your second loan, is it not? But how come they were able to secure [more than] 20 loans [each]?” Duron stated in his privilege speech.

Duron also alleged that some of the names listed in his data were “dummies,” given that some of them were able to secure loans higher than their salaries, like one utility worker who was able to borrow up to ₱517,000.

“If you base [on their] salary, it is not enough because of their paying capacity, and at the same time, there needs to be ₱5,000 to be retained in their salary,” he stated.

“Others cannot even avail of one loan, how can they do this, especially job hires? Usually, isn’t it just regular employees who can get loans? How can they get these loans? Is this not very anomalous?” he added.

He questioned how and why these loans were allowed by the ICGEMPC’s board of directors.

“Board resolutions are usually [done] once a month, but how come they have weekly loans? There are even [loans availed] between [a span] 3 [or] 4 days. Normally, it should be a payroll deduction. So, there have been loans over the counter [or] without collateral. There is no board resolution,” he said.

In response, Zaldivar said he is a “member in good standing” who had been faithful to his loan obligations.

Zaldivar was the first councilor to speak out on the issue and called on the city council to investigate the issue in his July 13 privilege speech, which triggered a Committee of the Whole hearing on July 17.

He added that his loan was justified by a personal emergency.

“I am a member of the cooperative, and I have all the privilege to avail such loan. […] I used it because my mother needed it for her hospitalization. I didn’t steal money from the cooperative. I followed their remarks on my loan application,” said Zaldivar.


Speaking to the media, Duron said that he would take the risk rather than keep the matter confidential as it involved a lot of money accumulated from city government employees.

“It’s useless to investigate then you withhold the information. In the first place, it was provided to me officially, […] by the cooperative being investigated,” he said.

“To me, it’s very clear that it’s large-scale estafa committed by the officers of the cooperative because the amount involved is more than ₱100,000, it involves millions, and committed even by the officers entrusted with the funds of the cooperative,” he added.

In a press conference also on Wednesday, City Legal Office (CLO) lawyer Joseph Edward Areño said LBP notified them on Tuesday of the up to ₱55.809 million in outstanding loan accountabilities tied to ICGEMPC.

This includes current and past due loans but does not include accountabilities to the cooperative’s private investors.

Areño also said that Elevencione, who had retired from service, had submitted an offer of payment.

Based on the documents related to the issue that were provided to the CLO, Areño suggested that the cooperative and involved persons in the controversy may be penalized via Republic Act No. 9520 (Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008) or Act No. 3815 (Revised Penal Code).

“Hopefully, we will get to the bottom of everything. We will have to ask for them to answer it, otherwise, there will be cases to be filed,” said Areño.

Areño said that they are still looking into the cooperative’s documents, and are preparing Statements of Account for outstanding balances.