Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zambales power co-op takeover worsens feud

CASTILLEJOS, ZAMBALES, Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer) —The feud over management control of an electric cooperative here ended in a takeover of the cooperative’s office by representatives of the Cooperative Development Authority.

Dominador Gallardo, chair of the Zambales Electric Cooperative II (Zameco) board, said representatives of the CDA and members of the previous board forcibly took over the cooperative’s offices here.

“They came here with their [police] escorts to try to remove us and gain control of the management,” said Gallardo.

He said the CDA representatives, accompanied by policemen, went to the Zameco II office on Thursday night and tried to wrest control of the cooperative “without informing us beforehand, and tried to force a change in management control here.”

Gallardo said the current board that he leads has the support of mayors of seven Zambales towns serviced by the cooperative.

P67M scam

He said the members of the previous board were implicated in a scam that resulted in a loss of P67 million in revenues.

That board, led by Jose Dominguez, had not held an election for 24 years, said Gallardo.

Last year, consumers of Zameco II and the mayors of Subic, Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Felipe, San Antonio, San Narciso and Cabangan staged a rally to protest the alleged mismanagement of the cooperative.

The protests resulted in the eventual ouster of the Dominguez board and the installation of Gallardo as the new board chair.

Castillejos Mayor Wilma Billman said although the CDA and members of the old board had taken over, the supporters of the current board would not give in.

“Their takeover is only partial… A dialogue will be initiated but we support the present board,” she said.

Gallardo said they have appealed to Zambales police officials to pull out their personnel from Zameco II’s office here.

Subic Mayor Jeffrey Khonghun said policemen, who accompanied members of the old Zameco II board, disarmed the security guards of the cooperative.

“We’re here to show support for the current board members,” Khonghun said.

He said the Gallardo board was recognized by the National Electrification Administration and the CDA.

Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, however, said Zameco II is now registered with the CDA as mandated by Republic Act No. 9520 (Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008), which empowered CDA to supervise the management of electric cooperatives in the country.

“I asked the NEA about this and they said that Zameco II is no longer under them. When the term of the Gallardo board expired on Oct. 2, they should have had an election,” Magsaysay said. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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