By Elmer James Bandol
DARAGA, Albay (BicolToday.com/30 Nov. 2011) – The attempt to railroad the privatization of the ailing Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc.(ALECO), here was foiled today (Wednesday) following the resistance of more than 300 member-consumers who stood up against the entry of Private Sectors Participation (PSP) endorsed by the Crisis Management Committee (CMC).
The proposed parameters for the private entry to ALECO was presented by CMC Secretary Fr. Rex Arjona , supported by more than 100 consumers participating but were over ruled when division of the house was called for by Fr. Ramonchito Segubiense, who presides the Special General Assembly of consumers held at Bicol College Gymnasium in Daraga, Albay.
Segubiense who tried to justify the CMC proposal by saying that it also comes from member-consumers, however, was relegated aside when former Albay Vice-Gov. Jesus James Calisin who previously moved for the amendment of the talking points prepared by ALECO management, explained that the said proposal comes from congressmen who are CMC members pushing for the privatization of the lone power coop.
In the same proposal, another consumer, Arnold Mesias of Legazpi City, has countered its “missionary electrification” purpose by explaining in the assembly that ALECO is still in financial quagmire and the intension is good but should not be adopted as the issue to be resolved is how to bail out the electric cooperative.
One consumer, Guillermo T Tulod, Jr., head of the Infrastructure Monitoring Evaluation Committee of the National Economic & Development Authority (NEDA) Bicol Regional Office, said that the parameters presented to the assembly should have been endorsed to the NEDA office for further study during conference by the Regional Development Council. “I’ve been in NEDA working for years but it’s only now that I learned ALECO is in financial fix”, Tulod lamented.
During the opening of the assembly, Albay Bishop Joel Z. Baylon has called for the participation of every consumer to give solutions to the bleeding power coop whose subscribers reaching more than 250,000. “Dapat ta daw ipaubaya sa iba na dai kitang pakilabot (shall we leave this coop to others without your participation) said Baylon in an opening statement. The prelate’s words have fired up the participation of more than 500 attendees.
Lynrose Baruga, ALECO finance head, explained to consumers attending the assembly that the power coop is hemorrhaging or operating in deficit, its assets P2.8 billion but liabilities reached to P4.7 billion. Baruga blamed its loses to 23 per cent systems loss despite the creation of Systems Loss Reduction Department of the coop wherein performance of personnel assigned is questionable.
Earlier, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) told consumers that AELCO could no longer bail out the coop due to its huge financial obligations reaching to P3 billion and its transformers, sub-stations and lines are antiquated that need rehabilitation. Consumers, however, are skeptics because during the time of former Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo, rehabilitation fund amounting to P250 million was infused to ALECO following the destruction wrought about by Typhoon Reming in 2007. “Sana bago na ang mga transformers ng ALECO sa halagang ibinigay ni GMA” said Santiago Mariscotes of Daraga town.
NEA designated personnel, Jose Zamora of Polangui, Albay and Exequiel Rieza, public information officer of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda were assigned to handle the Rehabilitation Office when the said funds were turned over to ALECO.
The NEA has continuously promised that the P250 million rehab funds will be audited, however, to the dismay of consumers, as it continues to evade the answer where the money went wherein for the past ten years ALECO has been under the management of NEA.
The consumers’ assembly which started at 9:32 AM has spent about P200,000 according to Engr. Paulino Lopez, designated ALECO manager by NEA. Not all attending consumers, however, were given snacks until after past noon when debates heat up.
The said controversy rose up when amendments to the agenda not to include privatization and the creation of an Interim Board to give legal face to privatization transactions were still included by the presiding officer during the session.
Because of the attempt, the discussion for the excluded agenda was cut off as the motion to adjourn was unanimously carried and supported by the majority who started to get out of the gym. The session adjourned at 12:48 PM. (Elmer James Bandol)
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