Cashier arrested for theft of P150M power firm funds


SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional office here arrested on Wednesday the former head of the cashiering section of the La Union Electric Cooperative, Inc (Luelco) who was wanted for six counts of qualified theft after she allegedly amassed around P150-million collections of electric bills.

Cecilla Olarte, Luelco’s former cashier, was arrested in her house in Barangay Sta. Cecilla, Aringay, La Union at around 7:00 a.m. by the arresting team led by Atty. Dave Alunan, NBI assistant regional director.

Alunan and his team implemented the warrant of arrest issued by Judge Ethelwolda Jaravata of the Agoo Regional Trial Court Branch 32 against Olarte who was reportedly in hiding for several months.

It can be recalled that Olarte was charged in court after the investigating prosecutors Gaudencio Valdez Jr. and Braulio Tade, in their resolutions approved by provincial prosecutor Danilo Bumacod, found sufficient evidence to indict her for the crime of qualified theft, a non-bailable offense.

Initially, Valdez resolved eight of the 19 cases of qualified theft based on the complaint of Ramon Posadas, Luelco general manager, while Tade resolved the other 11 cases.

But an NBI source said only six counts of qualified theft were listed in the warrant and that the amount lost is around P150 million which is doubled that the initial P75-million.

Based on Posadas’ complaint, Olarte allegedly did not deposit to the Luelco account the collections for Sept. 21, and Oct. 16, 2012 and the collections for March 12, 13, 18, 20, 21, and 25, 2013 with a total amount of P39, 831,000.

Olarte also allegedly did not deposited the whole amount of P55, 217,170 collections for March 27, 2013 and April 1,2,3,4,8,10,12,15,16 and 18, 2013. Of the total P55, 217,170, she allegedly deposited only P19, 896, 835 with undeposited amount of P35, 320, 343 based on computations.

Posadas claimed that the huge undeposited collections were found out during an audit conducted by auditors of the National Electrification Administration and internal audit of Luelco.

“She is the only person who is in custody of the collections of Luelco during that period and because she could not account for the missing money, she violated the trust given to her to keep the funds of the cooperative,” Posadas said in his affidavit.

Olarte denies any wrongdoing claiming that the missing amount which were not deposited were given as cash advances to Luelco officials, employees and contractors.

However, during the investigation, Olarte failed to show proof where the amount collected went.

“Her failure to account for the amount she collected which she failed to deposit can only lead to one conclusion that she took the money belonging to Luelco and used it for her own personal use and benefit,” reads part of the resolution.

Olarte is temporarily detained at the NBI office here before his formal turn over to the Regional Trial Court in Agoo.

By Dexter A. See