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Consumers group backs graft raps vs. NEA chief

A consumers group based in the Visayas and Mindanao has advised National Electrification Administration chief, Edgardo Masongsong, to face his graft charges before the Ombudsman, instead of calling those “baseless and malicious”.

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Greco Belgica last week charged Masongsong with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Omnibus Election Code for allegedly allowing electric cooperatives to contribute funds for a party-list campaign in the 2019 elections.

The group, Carriers Utilities Consumers Alliance Inc.-No to Excessive Authority-Alliance of Dissatisfied Consumer Movement released a statement Thursday, saying that Masongsong violated anti-graft practices and election laws by allowing the use of electric cooperatives’ funds for an election campaign.

Jake Harrison Yap of the group’s Cebu and Bohol chapter, Roy Cordova of Negros Island, Armando Kee of Central Mindanao, Julius Amper of Davao Regions, Bert Tito Pal of Caraga Region, and Leo Serafin Candil of Zamboanga City issued the statement in support of Belgica’s decision to elevate the case before the OMB.

“We are the complainants in the case filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by the PACC against Masongsong. And we feel insulted when we learned of the respondent’s media response to the PACC’s move, calling it “baseless and malicious”,” they said in their statement.

PACC alleged that electric cooperatives issued board resolutions authorizing the use of funds for Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association’s bid for a party-list seat in 2019 polls, now occupied by Rep. Presley de Jesus.

De Jesus is also facing charges of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or Republic Act 3019, filed by the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. before the Ombudsman for holding on to his post as president of a local electric cooperative, while already a member of Congress.

Masongsong, the commission said, did not object to the provisions of the board resolutions despite a law prohibiting persons operating a public utility from contributing funds for partisan politics.

In a statement posted on the NEA website on May 13, Masongsong refuted the allegations as “baseless and malicious”.

He assured that no public funds were used to finance the campaign of the Philreca party-list during the 2019 elections. He added that this matter can easily be verified from the records of the NEA.*PNA

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