Electric co-ops protest cancellation of franchise

By Alena Mae S. Flores – February 03, 2019 at 07:05 pm
from manilastandard.net

The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc., a group of 121 electric cooperatives, asked Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to be fair in addressing the plight of members nationwide.

Philreca said in a statement Cusi’s initial endorsement letter to the House of Representatives for the cancellation of the franchise of 17 electric co-ops and its subsequent withdrawal were meant “to manipulate the mindset of the public for them to think that the electric cooperatives are not performing well.”

“And with this comes the justification on the entry of private, for-profit and zero-experience corporations. While we are fully aware of the secretary’s pre-conceived notion of inefficient management, corruption, unnecessary political interference, as well as institutional conflicts among ECs, based on his earlier pronouncements, we still hope and expect him to be just and fair in assessing our accomplishments and challenges at the same time,” the group said.

“We hope that the DoE would see how the electric cooperatives have been operating in areas no private distribution utility has dared to enter before,” Philreca said.

Cusi endorsed to the House of Representatives through Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the revocation of franchise of 17 electric cooperatives, saying these ECs were “underperforming and financially and technically distressed”.

Philreca said this presumption was unjust and biased and was done without prior consultation with the concerned electric cooperatives.

“As it turned out, this endorsement was done in haste and in the absence of due diligence on the part of the Department of Energy, because just recently, the same endorsement was recalled and recalled by Secretary Cusi himself,” Philreca said.

Cusi said there was a need “to conduct further evaluation and assessment on the status and performance of these cooperatives”, but Philreca said he should have done this first.

“While we believe that recalling and revoking the original endorsement is the right thing to do, we cannot help but express our sentiments because his actions have already caused significant damage and irreparable negative impression to the ECs,” the group said.

Philreca said Cusi’s claims of an inclusive review of the ECs “compliance to the service requirements of their respective areas” to determine sustainable solutions  “fall short of what the secretary has been doing for the past months.”

Philreca said that since early last year, Cusi had consistently declined restoring the budget cuts to the government’s sitio electrification program.

The group said Cusi favored the entry of for-profit corporations in the electrification sector versus supporting ECs who are experiencing different kind of challenges.

“And he has never engaged the ECs on any dialog or meeting with an open mind so as to come up with solutions,” the group said.