MARAWI CITY: The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasu–reco) and National Electrification Administration (NEA) officials to file their respective counter-affidavits for plunder and other criminal cases filed last month by 27 Lanao towns, the complainants’ lawyer said on Wednesday.
Atty. Bayan Balt said the counsel of the complaining 27 Lanao towns received on Tuesday a copy of the order dated July 9, 2014 signed by Atty. Nellie Roguen-Golez, director of the preliminary investigation, administrative, adjudication and monitoring.
Balt said the order was for respondents Lasureco general manager Ashary Maongco, NEA Administrator Edita Bueno and NEA Supervising Auditor Digno Tumbokon “to file their counter affidavit within ten  days from receipt of the order, while the complainants are given the same period to reply, thereafter, the case is submitted for resolution.”
Last month, Maongco, Bueno and Tumbokon were charged with plunder, graft and other violation cases for their alleged involvement in “questionable disbursements” of funds that allegedly bloated the power coop debt to P6.2-billion as of January 14, 2014.
The funds include P190-million Barangay Electrification Project intended for the province, P25-million Pantawid Kuryente and the P603-million power bills collected from the consumers in 2007-2012 which were not allegedly remitted by Lasureco to Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (PSALM) and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Balt said “the cases filed against respondent were docketed as OMB-C-C-14-0205 for the crimes of plunder, malversation and violation of R.A. 3019 while the administrative case was docketed as OMB-C-A-14-0175, both cases are being heard by the honorable Ombudsman.”
Balt said his clients lauded the Ombudsman’s office for their “swift” action, which they hoped to pave the way for their attainment of justice in the face of the power outage that has gripped 33 of the 39 towns in Lanao del Sur for some 14 months now.
Meanwhile, Balt said seven other towns supported the 27 complaining local government units and filed the same plunder and criminal cases against the officials of Lasureco and NEA.
Balt named the complainants as Mayor Edna Benito of Balabagan, Nazruddin Maglangit of Kapatagan, Macapado Benito Sr. of Calanogas, Mamaulan Molok of Maguing, Mauyag Papandayan Jr. of Tubaran and Hamza Gauraki of Kapai.
“The seven mayors alleged that respondent Maongco admitted he diverted the pass on charges intended for PSALM and NGCP and misused the said funds for rehabilitation and construction of Lasureco headquarters, this funds worth P384-million are public funds and realigned by the respondents without congressional fiat or authority in the General Appropriation Act,” Balt said.
The mayors claimed that the admission were made in an open letter to Pres. Aquino signed by respondent Maongco and his employees published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 7, 2014 issue.