18 towns to file contempt rap vs utility executives

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MARAWI CITY: Residents of 18 Lanao del Sur towns are readying contempt charges against officials of the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) for defying a court order directing them to reconnect electricity to 32 towns here.

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After meeting with town representatives, lawyer Bayan Balt said residents “agreed to seek further action against coop officials led by Ashary Ma–ongco for his failure to implement the court order issued by Honorable Wenida BM Papandayan in special civil action No. 2002-14.”

On June 16, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) ordered Lasureco to reconnect the electricity of 32 towns with over 180,000 residents that have been living in darkness since May last year.

The petitioning towns are Butig, Lumbatan, Lumbayanague, Lum–baca Unayan, Sultan Dumalun–dong, Bayang, Binidayan, Tubaran, Pagayawan, Ganassi, Madamba, Madalum, Bacolod-Kalawe, Cala–nogas, Malabang, Balabagan, Picong, and Kapatagan.

Balt said the towns, represented by mayors, wanted Maongco to explain his continued refusal to restore electricity in their areas.

In a TV interview on June 28, Maongco admitted that many towns in the second district could not be given electricity but he did not give the reason

Last month, Maongco, along with National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edita Bueno and Supervising Auditor Digno Tumbokon, was sued by 27 local officials for plunder, graft and other violations involving “questionable disbursements” from the P190-million Barangay Electrification project, the P25-million Pantawid Kuryente project, and P603 million in power bills collected from consumers from 2007 to 2012.

“They further questioned the illegal disbursements of the P190-million Barangay Electrification Fund and the P20-million electric metering subsidy Maongco loaned from NEA,” Balt said.

Representatives of the aggrieved towns are appealing to President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to address the power woes in the region and to discipline Lasureco and NEA officials who they said have not fulfilled their legal obligations to residents.

The Manila Times tried but failed to get reactions from Maongco and his co-accused, whose mobile phone number is no longer working according to sources privy to the controversy.

But in an open letter to the President published on Monday in another newspaper, the Lasureco manager and his appointed board of directors provided reasons in the imposition of the 14-month power outage in 27 of the 39 towns in Lanao del Sur. They also complained about a “demolition job” being undertaken by detractors against the implementation of “reforms” in the province’s electricity.

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