BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Finally, the long legal battle between Central Negros Electric Cooperative and the Bacolod City government over dues they owe each other will be resolved soon.
This was after city officials and representatives of Ceneco met recently and came up with a settlement agreement, Danny Pondevilla, acting manager of the coop, said yesterday.
The meeting was attended by Pondevilla and other Ceneco representatives, Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan, Sangguniang Panlungsod Secretary Vicente Petierre III, and Councilor Dindo Ramos, chairman of the SP Committee on Laws and Ordinances.
Ceneco had filed cases against the city government for its unsettled account that reached P250 million while the latter also charged the coop for not paying P90 million in taxes, and P50 million in penalties.
The city government had padlocked the Ceneco office in 2004 and 2008 after it cut the city government’s electric supply because of its unsettled bills.
Pondevilla appeared before as counsel for Bacolod, together with the late CLO Allan Zamora.
Pondevilla said he wants to settle the rift between Ceneco and the city government once and for all, now that he is the acting manager.
At their recent meeting, the city officials agreed to pay the dues with Ceneco but they want the cooperative to release a breakdown of the arrears of each city administration.
Ceneco said they are willing to accept the payment from the city government on a staggered basis, or any other method it wants.
Ceneco will issue checks to settle its tax dues with the city while they will defer the payment of the penalties for now.
Pondevilla said that before paying the penalties, several legal questions need to be clarified, including the amount condonation.
He said the city government, through a resolution, reduced the amount of Ceneco’s penalty.
However, Bayatan said the Commission on Audit clarified that local government units have no power or capacity to condone amounts of penalties for arrears in property taxes.
After the settlement of its tax dues, the Ceneco legal team will file a motion for declaratory relief before the court on the reduction of the amount of penalties, Pondevilla added. The city government and Ceneco will meet again to discuss the reduction of the penalty amount once the court has issued a resolution on the matter.*