BACOLOD City – The Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ceneco) General Manager Sulpicio Lagarde denied the falsification charges filed against him and two other former Ceneco officials.
Earlier, Bacolod City Municipal Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Remegio Rojo sentenced Lagarde, former Ceneco president Edward Gasambelo, and former vice president/secretary Luis Cuenca to imprisonment of three years, six months and 21 days to four years, nine months and 10 days for the said charges.
They were also ordered to pay the P5,000 fine each.
“This is a nine year old case, I have to admit I did not give it much attention then because I believe indi ni salapakon nga kaso,” Lagarde said.
The case was filed by Atty. Enrique Tabino, a former member of the Ceneco board who also served as acting Ceneco general manager.
Lagarde expressed optimism that the decision will be reversed once they present their side and supporting documents.
Tabino accused the three of conspiring to falsify Ceneco Board Resolution No. 8560-A Series of 2009 for application for provisional rate increase with the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC).
Citing the dictionary, Lagarde said conspiracy is a collegial offense. He asked why he would be accused of being part of the conspiracy when he does not take part in the decision of the board.
“It is as if I am taking part in the decision of the board in passing a resolution as if I have the power to vote, to pass a resolution or disapprove a resolution, I do not have that power so how can I become part of the conspiracy?” Lagarde asked.
Lagarde also questioned why the two members of the board who moved for the approval of the resolution and the one who seconded it were not included in the charges.
“Why was it selective?” he further asked.
He also denied that the purpose of the falsified board resolution was to increase electricity rate.
Lagarde pointed out that in fact, power rates reduced by nine centavos from P0.2427 to P0.1518 per kilowatt-hour.
He added that “we will submit documents to the Judge for him to take a second look at it and balance his views. As far Ceneco is concerned, I would like to assure the consumers this case will have no effect at all,” he said.
He added that he will not apply for probation “because it is admitting that you committed the crime when we did not falsify anything.”
“I am not worried at all and I would like assuage the fears of our consumers that it might affect Ceneco. It will not,” Lagarde said.
He also said that he will pay for his own lawyer.
Lagarde lamented that Tabino case reported the case to the media amid the 15-day reglamentary period for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
“If there is any effect at all, it’s media mileage on the part of Tabino,” he added.