‘THERE WERE LAPSES’: CDA to probe City Hall coop loan mess, reg’l office

The Cooperative Development Authority headed by Undersecretary Joseph Encabo (left) and Director Mildred Esguerra holds a press conference at the Philippine Information Agency-Region 6 office on October 9, 2023. (Contributed photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) will conduct its own investigation into the apparent “lapses” of its regional office and the loan debt mess besetting the Iloilo City Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative (IGEMPC) and its regional office.

“I assured the honorable mayor (Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas) that there will be a deeper or in-depth, fair, just and independent investigation and inspection that will be conducted to (IGEMPC),” said CDA Undersecretary Joseph Encabo in a press conference on Monday.

Encabo added that aside from an investigation into the city hall cooperative, the CDA will also conduct an independent investigation into the possible participation of its personnel in the regional office on the loan mess.

“The same time will also conduct an independent investigation into the possible participation of our employees that might have collided with some other issues, to be fair, all will be in the context of due process, at the administrative level,” he said.

The inquiry will cover the cooperative’s governance, financial standing, and other underlying issues within the regional office’s personnel.

Encabo emphasized that this is a two-way process of getting the information right so the public could know because this involves public interest.

The CDA undersecretary mentioned that they already notified its regional investigation team to halt its ongoing investigation, as the central office will assume control of the investigation starting next week.

“The head office will take over next week, Monday. We will just prepare the special order for those identified personnel in the head office to do the investigation and inspection on that particular cooperative,” he said.

Encabo, however, noted that he cannot yet identify who will be the chair of the investigation team as the move is still a pending discussion with other board members, deputy administrators, and directors.

He further underscored that all personnel involved in the investigation would come from the central office, not the regional office.

When asked about his reaction to the city government’s declaration of “persona non grata” on CDA-6 director Nora P. Patron, Encabo said that he respects the decision of the city mayor, citing that “maybe our director has this negligence on her part.”

“We really give respect to the declaration that he has made but we saw the other side of the coin — of which we have to look into the issues of the cooperative because for me the issue that [was] unanswered, the option to it is the declaration of the persona non grata,” he said.

On September 28, Treñas signed Executive Order 129 which tagged Patron as “undesirable and unwelcome” in the city.

Despite the intervention of the CDA central office on the IGEMPC’s issues, Treñas has not confirmed to Daily Guardian if an executive order will be issued to lift the “persona non grata” declaration.

“The declaration is with respect to the regional director, not to CDA,” he said.

In a statement earlier in the morning, Treñas said that he had met Encabo and the latter assured that he would rectify the issues in its regional office and the IGEMPC.

Encabo admitted that “there were lapses” from its regional office.

“I really believe that there were lapses […] There were lapses even on the communication side, even on addressing some issues on the coop, even on the context of the invitation coming from the mayor. Yes, there were a lot of lapses.  And we apologize for it,” he said.

In the EO, Treñas said that since June 2023, Patron has been ignoring requests for a consultative meeting to intervene and resolve the issues of the IGEMPC.

Encabo that this is the first time in CDA that a local government unit has declared one of its regional heads “persona non grata”.

“We are sad and our spirits are low in this particular issue because we don’t want it to happen,” he added.

Encabo said that the CDA is open to transfer Patron to other regional offices if the decision warrants a “more harmonious relationship with the community, with the local government unit and the sector.”

He noted that the decision on Patron’s transfer would be contingent on discussions among the board of directors and the deputy administrators.

“We will look into the merit of the issues and the cases and if there’s really ground, we will do what’s proper and appropriate,” he added.

Encabo affirmed that if the investigation reveals personnel involvement in anomalies, the CDA will take legal action against them.