Power co-ops soften on Energy chief

By Jordeene B. Lagare – March 07, 2019
from The Manila Times

A group of electric cooperatives has invited Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for an open dialogue to settle their differences.

In a statement, the Philippine Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (Philreca) said the “open and productive discussion” is scheduled on March 19, 2019 at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. FILE PHOTO

Philreca said they consider the province as a “neutral ground” where both parties can freely express their respective policy positions on significant issues affecting the government’s goal of total electrification. “We fervently hope that all parties involved will take the moral high ground,” the group said on Monday.

Philreca — the umbrella group of all 121 ECs in the Philippines — is responding to the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) call to resolve their issues through a “constructive dialogue.”

NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong on Tuesday appealed to Energy officials and electric cooperative (EC) leaders “to engage in a dialogue and find bases of unity and work together to reconcile their respective policy positions on issues that are relevant to an industry that affects the lives of 104 million Filipinos.” Masongsong is hoping both parties will find a mutually acceptable resolution to rural electrification issues.

Prior to calls for talks, Philreca called for the immediate resignation of Cusi and declared him as “persona non-grata” over alleged abuse of power.

The Philreca board cited Cusi’s several blunders, such as his refusal to heed to legislators’ call not to reduce the budget of NEA, which oversees all power co-ops nationwide.

They also accused the Energy chief of being “incompetent and ignorant of the law which have been made apparent by ‘biases and pre-conceived negative notions against electric cooperatives preference to private for-profit corporations; abuse of power; lack of genuine knowledge regarding rural electrification and cooperativism, and failure to recognize the success and gains of rural electrification and development not just because of the government through the National Electrification Administration but most especially because of electric cooperatives commissioned and considered implementing arm of the government.’”