BENECO protests unwarranted withdrawal of P58M sitio electrification fund

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BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) protested the unauthorized withdrawal from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) the amount of P58.6 million which was specifically earmarked by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for the electric cooperative’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).

In his letter to LBP branch head Liza Melendez, BENECO general manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben claimed that officials, employees and member-consumer-owners (MCOs) were surprised and frustrated on the recent update of its existing account where the balance in the amount of P58.6 million was allegedly illegally withdrawn on December 6, 2021.

He explained that the said fund was purposely appropriated for the continuous implementation of sitio electrification projects which is a subsidy from the national government coursed through the NEA.

Since the said fund is from the national treasury which utilization and usage follows Commission on Audit (COA) rules on government fund spending, Licoben pointed out that the said amount should be disbursed only for the programmed projects and not for any other purpose.

“Please be informed the subsidy funds to electric cooperatives are treated as receivables from the ECs and shall be treated as expense by the source agency only after liquidation of the project as specified in the subsidy memorandum of agreement,” Licoben stressed.

He provided the LBP management with copies of NEA Memorandum 2009-016; copy of certification stating, among others, that BENECO account is purposely for subsidy fund and Devitt Memo ASD No. S-20-12-113 and its pertinent supporting documents for the bank’s information and guidance.

Licoben warned the government bank that since it allowed its withdrawal, the LBPO will be held accountable for any advance audit findings of the said funds in the future.

Further, he stipulated that LBP will be answerable to the source agency as to its accounting and reportorial requirements aside from the fact that the bank will answer for any misappropriation of the said funds since it is for specific purpose.

Licoben reiterated that the funds had been provided by the source agency purposely for the benefit of the people of Benguet where it will be used to fund the programmed implementation of sitio electrification projects that had been identified as priority for implementation and that the same should not be used for any other purpose.

Licoben demanded that the LBP refurbish the said account or the bank will be facing the legal consequences for allowing the unnecessary and unauthorized withdrawal of the funds that had been appropriate to continue the implementation of sitio electrification projects within its franchise area.