Suspended Ceneco directors to file MR

(Left) Ceneco directors Antonio Paniqui, Fr. Ernie Larida, Jojit Yap, and Eugene Velasco in a press conference Wednesday. (Dolly Yasa photo)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Members of the Board of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) who were suspended by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for 30 days after being found guilty of simple neglect of duty will file a motion for reconsideration (MR) on the decision.

But they will abide with the suspension order pending the result of the MR, said Ceneco board of directors’ president Jojit Yap in a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the O Hotel here.

The suspended directors were Jojit Yap, Robert Javellana, Martha Joyce Cuenca, Fr. Ernie Larida, Antonio Panique, Eugene Velasco and then NEA project supervisor/acting general manager Danny Pondevilla.

Earlier, NEA ordered the suspension of the former acting manager of Central Negros Electric Cooperative and six members of the Board of Directors for 30 days after finding them guilty of simple neglect of duty.

The NEA decision dated May 30, 2022 was based on the complaint filed by Power Watch Negros Advocates Inc. secretary general Wennie Sancho on July 7, 2021.

The case pertained to Ceneco’s extension of a 20-megawatt power supply contract with Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. (KSPC) in 2021.

In his complaint, Sancho charged the members of seven Ceneco officials with grave misconduct, gross neglect, dishonesty, gross insubordination.

Sancho claimed that on May 13, 2019, the Ceneco board created the EC Third-Party Bids and Awards Committee (TPBAC), the Technical Working Group (TWG) as its secretariat, while his group was appointed and accredited as Third Party Joint TPBAC observer.

The EC BOD also issued a resolution directing the Management through the TPBAC to conduct a Competitive Section Process (CSP) aligned with the EC Distribution Development Plan (DDP) that was approved by the BOD, Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for the procurement of Ceneco’s power supply.

He added that on January 26, 2021, the terms of reference (TOR) of the CSP were approved by the board, as recommended by Pondevilla and duly reviewed and approved by NEA and DOE.

The CSP Invitation to Bid was posted in the respective websites of TPBAC in accordance with the issued bulletin that were posted in the said websites.

But Sancho claimed that on April 10, 2021, or two days before the date of the scheduled bid opening, the Chairman of the TPBAC, Engr. Norman Pollentes, received a letter from the board of directors seeking the postponement of the opening of the bids.

He claimed that despite the efforts to postpone, the TPBAC proceeded with the conduct and opening of bids as scheduled on April 12 2021 pursuant to the issued TOR and the TP BAC bid bulletins.

Sancho said that the Ceneco officials committed gross neglect  due to lack of foresight when they failed to protect the interest of the cooperative and member-consumers (MCOs) in deciding to extend the 20 MW KSPC supply agreement at P5.42 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for one year instead of approving the P3.29 per kWh as the winning bid that underwent CSP.

In its decision, NEA said that contrary to the scenario painted by the complainant from the opening of the bids which were held per schedule approved by the DOE and NEA, “there would still be the post-qualification process to be done to be followed by the awarding and contract signing then the joint filing before the ERC.”

It cited that the period of such process is beyond the control of the cooperative and the supplier who filed the petition as they shall abide by the rules and procedure mandated by the ERC.

It also noted that even if the respondents would argue that the period of the extension, they entered into does not exceed one year, they should have applied with the DOE a certificate of exemption and if granted, the cooperative is required to inform the ERC, National Power Corporation (NPC) and the NEA of such exemption.

“Records do not disclose any copy or even a mere allegation that Ceneco through the respondents sought such exemption,” the decision stated.

Yap said that the decision of the NEA has cleared them of the charges of Sancho as they were only cited for simple neglect of contrary to what Sancho has accused them.

Yap also said that the MR will not question the decision of the NEA but will just seek clarification especially on the power contract extension issue.