LEGASPI CITY, 03-May-2013 (BicolToday.com) – The Pre-Bid Conference for private corporations interested to invest in the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) by concessions is tacit proof of how hell-bent the National Electrification Administration (NEA) is in its bid to complete the privatization of the electric cooperative in Albay.
This was aired by militant group, Bayan Bikol, which has been opposing the Epira Law that had privatized the energy sector, and has been monitoring over ailing ALECO on the process of being gobbled up by big power investors.
“This blatant and appalling action of NEA is a direct affront to ALECO member-consumers and roughshods their rights, who in November 30, 2011 in a Special General Membership Assembly (SGMA), rejected the Private Sector Participation (PSP) parameters, and approved the Coop-to-Coop as the viable option to effect the turn-around of ALECO,” said Dan Balucio of Bayan Bikol.
“The public should know that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 completed the privatization of electric power industry in the country from power generation, transmission, and to the large extent, distribution. About fifty two percent (52%) of the power industry is controlled by three (3) big private corporations – San Miguel Corporation(SMC), the Aboitiz, and the Lopezes,” Balucio informed Bicol Today. com on Friday, May 2.
In the past, the electric power industry was a public monopoly through the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR). The EPIRA Law caused the privatization of the industry. Proponents of EPIRA Law had argued then, that privatization will help NAPOCOR pay its huge debts, and electric power rates will become cheaper because of competition, Balucio explained while citing its historical background.
“Amidst the people’s strong opposition while this law was still pending in Congress, the (then) US-Arroyo regime railroaded its passage,” Balucio lamented.
Bayan Bikol said that after ten (10) years of implementation of EPIRA Law, this stature is a dismal failure. NAPOCOR’s debt in 2001 amounting to $16.4 B remains big at $15.8 B in 2010 despite NAPOCOR’s debt service payment of $18 B. The electric power rate in the Philippines is the highest in Asia.
“The outstanding debt of ALECO amounting to P3.7 B is not the fault of the members-consumers; rather, it is the result of corruption and mismanagement. ALECO is the sole power distribution utility in Albay Province. There is no reason for it to become heavily ridden in debted except for the reasons above cited,” Bayan Bikol gave stress.
“The indebtedness and near bankruptcy of ALECO is systematically designed to render all other option untenable, except privatization,” the group bared.
The militant group accused the US-Aquino regime is exerting all-out efforts to place ALECO under the control of private corporations as intended by EPIRA Law.
NEA‘s intervention in the affairs of the electric cooperative is purposive. To fast track the process, NEA appointed Atty. Vicky Briones as ALECO’s project supervisor. ALECO Interim Board of Directors yielded to the pressure of NEA, dismissed the Coop-to-Coop option and adopted the PSP parameters.
Lawyer Briones is the general manager of a power coop (CASURECO 4) in Camarines Sur, with office in Tigaon town.
The PSP parameters will pave the way for the wholesale of ALECO. Members-consumers will loss control over ALECO and will cause the electric power rate to soar high.
Badly affected will be the low-end consumers. PSP, as an option for ALECO is regressive and anti-poor.
The militant group called for Albay consumers “to join their efforts to oppose ALECO privatization and frustrate the private sector participation option, and fight for cheapest electric power rates.” [BicolToday.com]