House probe on Masbate power disconnection | BICOL TODAY

House probe on Masbate power disconnection

MANILA — The House Committee on Energy opened its inquiry on Monday on the P240-million dispute that led to the power supply disconnection in the whole province of Masbate.

Presided by committee vice chairman Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City), the panel’s probe was conducted on the basis of House Resolution 1066.

The resolution calls for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the failure of the Masbate Electric Cooperative (MASELCO) to settle its P240 million obligation to DMCI Masbate Power Corporation.

It explains that in the Final Disconnection Notice issued by DMCI, the power supplier said that it had “yet to receive any firm commitment from MASELCO on when said arrears will be settled” despite repeated requests.

As a result, DMCI disconnected the power supply to the province on May 31, 2017.

Lobregat said that the problem must be resolved in a manner beneficial to the energy-consuming public in terms of providing reliable, reasonably priced, and clean energy.

HR 1066 author Rep. Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District, Masbate) said he was aghast when the disconnection occurred. He hopes that the deliberations would help the panel craft legislation to prevent similar events from happening again.

Department of Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella reported current efforts to ensure uninterrupted power to the province such as the establishment of better lines and sub-stations.

However, Lanete pointed out that MASELCO must determine the root of its failure to pay. He noted that MASELCO had run into debt troubles before.

On February 22, 2016, a resolution was filed to request the assistance of Congress as MASELCO urged the National Power Corporation (NPC) to condone the interest charges on a loan of over P700 million.

“There is a management problem here, obviously. For someone to owe someone P1 billion to P700 million plus P240 million, it’s a very staggering amount,” Lanete said.

“More than anything else, this should be the matter that we should be discussing. How do you want to move forward? How do you plan to pay this? How do you plan to cope with NPC and DMCI? So eventually, at the end of the day, we’re going to have sustainable energy,” he added.

According to its resource speakers, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) arranged an internal restructuring of MASELCO in 2017 as well as discussions between DMCI and MASELCO.

MASELCO Finance Manager Mark John Montilla further attested that the NEA takeover has helped MASELCO handle its debts.

“In terms of arrears and in terms of months, since NEA took over, it remained for three months arrears and one year power bill compared to the ever-increasing balances in terms of months and amount of previous managements. At best, [the debt] was arrested,” Montilla said.

Meanwhile, DMCI Assistant Vice-President Loides Castro assured that the company will continue to work closely with MASELCO to ensure that Masbate residents continue to receive service.

“We are very optimistic that in due time they will be able to pay us because konti-konti po ay nare-resolve ­naman’yung iba’t ibang issues,” Castro said.

The panel agreed to monitor the discussions between MASELCO and DMCI in the coming weeks. It will reconvene in two to three months to assess its progress.

Posted by on July 31, 2018. Filed under Bicol News,Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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