LEGAZPI CITY (BicolToday.com/4-April-2013) – Makabayan senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño on Wednesday urged for government intervention to act on the issue of power firm Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), and its outstanding debt as Albayanos continue to suffer blackouts this summer from 3-5 hours to sometimes the whole day.
The electric cooperative has been debt-ridden owing to mismanagement and heavily burdened by alleged financial irregularties that has driven the power coop into near bankrupcty.
As of this year, reports said the Albay power utility is indebted by P1.3 billion to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). In 2011, it was also billed P1.8 billion in arrears by NEA and another P1.9 billion by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.
“Ilang taon nang binabalaan and ALECO ng disconnection pero wala namang ginagawa ang gobyerno kundi itulak ang privatization. Local groups, including the Church, had already opposed this because it will most likely result in higher prices, leaving the public helpless. What residents want is that it be transformed into a real cooperative and that it should become transparent in its dealings,” he said.
Casiño, who had served as 3-term congressman, said it is imperative for government, especially Congress to investigate the issue in order to reveal what happened to Aleco funds.
Casiño had filed in 2010 House Resolution 545, directing the Congressional Committee on Energy to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into the various anomalies surrounding the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) that has endangered the interests of consumers in the province with the proposal of a P1.66 per kilowatt hour hike in electricity rates.
According to Casiño, “Aleco is now allegedly the worst performing electric cooperative in the country as it has endangered the interests of its 250,000 member-consumers with its officials’ alleged culture of abuse, corruption and gross mismanagement that has brought it to the brink of bankruptcy,”
“The Aquino administration should realize that electricity is a strategic public service affecting people and economy and should not be treated as a profit-making venture. It is imperative that the local government of Albay particularly Governor Joey Sarte Salceda to immediately improve the services of ALECO and junk its planned privatization,” he stressed.
“It is sad to think that while Albay is one of the Philippine provinces with a very large power source that supplies part of the Luzon grid, it experiences regular brown outs. It is dismaying that people and businesses have been suffering the said power crisis because of problems created by a few powerful people,” he said. [BicolToday.com]