NEA takes over Ficelco

By Lenie Lectura – June 7, 2018
from Business Mirror

THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) has taken over the management of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (Ficelco). The move is expected to put an end to the frequent power interruptions in the island.

In a May 30 order, NEA designated an acting general manager to ensure proper delivery of electric service to Ficelco’s member-consumers.

“In the exigency of the service and pursuant Sections 4 [e] and 5 of the Presidential Decree 269 as amended, Orlando Andres is hereby designated as project supervisor and acting general manager  of Ficelco,” NEA office order 2018-119 stated.

Andres will manage the day-to-day operations of the electric cooperative and ensure Ficelco’s operational efficiency.

With NEA’s takeover, island residents are now assured of better electric services after months of persistent power outages when the cooperative was still under the leadership of its President Alexander Hung.

Business owners, civic groups and church leaders in Catanduanes have long been clamoring for the takeover of the island’s electric cooperative by NEA given the six to eight hour daily rotating brownouts.

Bishop Manolo de los Santos of Virac and the Catanduanes Sangguniang Panlalawigan have earlier called on NEA to take over the operations of Ficelco to protect its member-consumers.

In a recent audit, NEA discovered the brownouts were due to the cooperative’s failure to establish proper system operations, dispatch protocol and power reliability despite the anticipated surge in power demand during the hot summer months.

An anti-corruption watchdog has also filed an administrative complaint against Ficelco and its former officers for the cooperative’s failure to provide proper electricity service to consumers. The Catanduanes Crusaders Against Illegal Drugs and Corruption said island residents were deprived of quality service due to Ficelco’s gross failure to comply with its obligations to deliver and ensure adequate and reliable power supply.

The complaint was filed against Ficelco’s pre-NEA Board of Directors led by Hung and directors Julian Soneja (San Andres District), Rodulfo Vargas (Bato District), Arsena Bernacer (Caramoran-Pandan District), Jonathan Valles (OIC-General Manager), and Jose Barro Jr. (Dispatch Officer).