By Mario Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY, 1Aug013 – The business community in Albay Wednesday expressed dismay over the cutting of power supply in the entire province by the National Grid of the Philippines.
It said it incurred P55 million losses in terms of overhead expenses for the past 24 hours, a member of the Albay Chamber Commerce and Industry said Wednesday.
Marcial Tuanqui, past president of the ACCI, said in a phone interview “we can just imagine how much losses a business may incur if the power blackout continues for weeks.”
Tuanqui explained that overhead losses refer to spending caused by unprogrammed expenses for fuel to operate generator sets and other related expenses.
He said the business environment in Albay is on a standstill, claiming that the power blackout has severely affected food stocks in small groceries, stores and restaurants — including disruption in the workplace and mobility.
The current situation, according to Tuanqui, marks a “black eye to Albay” since this would affect the tourism industry, specifically the hotels, restaurants and tourist destination areas.
Tuanqui said the province’s investment opportunity would dropped significantly and affect the province’s goal to be among the recognized business centers in the country.
“This serves as a wake up call, to all of us, especially Aleco, our political leaders and businessmen,” he said.
City Mayor Noel Rosal said in an interview that as president of the Bicol’s Mayors League and as a representative of the three congressmen of Albay he requested Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to extend to the league and the three Albay representatives a soft loan in the amount of P36 million in order to bail out Aleco from its current bill for June in the amount of P56 million.
The letter, signed by Rosal and Rep. Fernando Gonzales (3rd district, Albay), appealed to Petilla through Edith Bueno, National Electrification Administration administrator, that the loan assistance would further avoid chaos and economic loss in the province.
“This is an immediate concern that has to be solved at once –we cannot wait for the coming days. What I am worried is the peace and order condition and the economic effect on this to the city,” Rosal said.
He promised that they will do their best to assist Aleco in the collection performance and any plan for a long term solution to its gargantuan past obligations.
Rosal admitted that Legazpi City alone is losing P10 million in overhead expenses a day because of the power blackout.
Lawyer Veronica Briones, NEA-designated Aleco project supervisor, said on Wednesday that to date the cooperative still has to raise some P39 million in order to settle the current bill for June amounting to P56 million.
Briones said that on top of the current outstanding bill, the cooperative has close to P4 billion in outstanding power bills with other creditors.
Rosal has placed this city under a “state of calamity” to cushion the negative economic effect brought by the power cut in the province.
Rodrigo Aguilar, assistant regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said prices and supply of basic and prime commodities were stable.
Aguilar noted a rush in buying of candles and kerosene in various towns and cities of the province.
He, however, dismissed reports of panic buying as supplies of candles kerosene are sufficient.
The Department of Education said it issued an order suspending night classes in all public secondary schools across the province.
Senior Inspector Arthur Gomez, Albay police spokesperson, said the Philippine National Police in Albay is under heightened alert as they have deployed additional policemen to beef up the present forces that would guard malls, terminals and communication towers.(PNA)