NEA Chief
National Electrification Administration (NEA)

MANILA — Nearly a year after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the dismissal of National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edita S. Bueno for her role in the acquisition of an insolvent thrift bank by the Local Waterworks Utilities Administration (LWUA) in 2009, the latter still continues to work at the same agency.

Morales ordered Bueno to be kicked out of her post on March 17, 2015, a day after a five-member investigating panel recommended her dismissal for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the service for working both at LWUA and the Express Savings Bank, Inc. (ESBI) at the same time.

The Ombudsman also slapped Bueno with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service and the perpetual ban for taking the Civil Service examination.

She was also recommended for indictment for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, also known as Republic Act No. 3019, for approving the deposit by LWUA of P400 million of its funds with the ESBI in anticipation of the proposed increase of the capitalization of the losing bank, which was never approved by the Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP.)

Bueno was also indicted for violating the same law for authorizing the deposit of P300 million from LWUA funds to ESBI without any permission from BSP. ESBI is not a depository bank of the Philippine government.

The thrift bank had been placed under receivership by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) after it was determined that it had been losing heavily for five years and its assets had been frittered away through mismanagement.

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Bueno was also accused of malversation of public funds by the panel comprised by M. A. Christian O. Uy, Karen E. Funelas, Bayani H. Jacinto, Julita Manalac Calderon and Jasmine Ann B. Gapatan for conspiring with former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, former chairman of the LWUA board of trustees who was accused of planning the acquisition of insolvent ESBI in 2009.

Bueno admitted that it was Pichay who appointed her to the ESBI board.

Rustico B. Tutol, Luis D. G. Estrada and Carmen F. Amores, the LWUA personnel who filed plunder charges against Pichay and other  LWUA officials, are also asking why Bueno continues to head NEA.
Bueno continues to exercise her functions as NEA administrator and even appointed deputy administrators Sonia B. San Diego, Goldelio Rivera and Rosaan Rosero-Lee last year.

Officially, Bueno should have been dismissed from the NEA as administrator as early as March 17, 2016 since the Ombudsman’s order is “immediately executory.”

However, the agency directly supervising NEA, the Department of Energy, apparently sat on the Ombudsman’s order and took its sweet time in implementing it.

Former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla should have dismissed Bueno last year but apparently dilly-dallied, leaving the NEA chief at her post as the Ombudsman’s order gathered dust.