The Hounding Ceneco Debt Left by Leonardia

The previous Leonardia Administration had the so-called “legal diskarte” or “legal lusot” in retorting the franchise tax liability whenever Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CENECO) sends its updated billing of the City’s insurmountable debt and media announced it. The Leonardia legal instrumentalities and spin doctors would immediately float CENECO’s franchise taxes it owes the City, thus justifiably stalling payment to said electric cooperative.

Result, CENECO OIC General Manager Chuchie Destriza described the above in her June 26, 2015 latest billing letter as the “unpaid electric bills of Bacolod City (which) has ballooned to such extent that it is putting a strain on CENECO’s cash flow.

Hounded and haunted, former Mayor Evelio Leonardia denied in a press statement that such “very huge debt” of the City to Ceneco under his watch ever existed (Watchmen Daily July 27, 2013)! He denied? Laugh out loud (LOL) — watch!

Said latest Ceneco billing signed by OIC General Manager Destriza and recently submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) last July 10, 2015, read that under previous administrations, the City incurred unpaid debt of P195,815,322.25 which is a stagnant 79 percent of the total current debt of P247,354,564.90. The aforementioned debt is obviously attributed to the Leonardia administration which is being denied. Under a “ceteris paribus” economics concept, this will remain unpaid because succeeding administrations will be too burdened to pay debts owed by one Mayor.

This is not the attitude shown by Mayor Puentevella. True, unpaid under his administration is the remaining 21 percent amounting to P51,539,242.65 which is continuously being updated and paid. The Puentevella administration does not have the predisposition of using those “legal lusot” (i.e. franchise tax, inspection fees, etc. retorts) in driving away its debts and communication lines are wide open between CENECO and the City’s financial team.

Most of all, in less than a year in power from 2002 to 2013, Mayor Puentevella paid its obligation to CENECO despite the fact that his predecessor left him with almost “zero balance”. To date, the Puentevella administration paid CENECO a substantial sum despite financial constraints inherited from the previous administration. Likewise, in various meetings with CENECO Officials, Mayor Puentevella assured them of options to eventually settle in staggered basis the City’s outstanding debts and at the same time vowed “not to run away from financial liabilities”. This is evidence of good faith and not a devious scheming of counter charging to avoid payment practised by Mayor Puentevella’s predecessor. In handling the CENECO billing and appeal for payment, Mayor Puentevella manifested strength, good management stewardship, gentlemanliness and statesmanship.

What is amazing and also onerous about this unpaid CENECO debt of the City is that every year, there is a budget to pay for the bills of CENECO and even BACIWA, and yet, former Mayor Leonardia NEVER EVER REPORTED PUBLICLY as to where the funds went.Were they realigned or used to pay for other accounts?

Former Bacolod City Mayor NEVER EVER ISSUED A STATEMENT ON THIS SCORE. It is about time for former Mayor Leonardia to answer this question! Where O’ Where did the funds go?*