By Manilyn Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY, 1Aug2013 – Outraged by the disconnection of power supply in Albay on Tuesday, the Aleco Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization Inc. (AMSSO), assisted by volunteer lawyers, is readying criminal charges against National Electrification Administration and Albay Electric Cooperative officials over the missing P264.6 million fund for electricity bills.
The amount was supposed to pay for the monthly bills of Aleco whose non-payment to settle its current bills on time had sent Albay in total darkness for 19 hours since Tuesday noon.
The unpaid current charges for June was P67 million.
AMSSO officials said they have been looking into the status of some P264.6 million fund that represents collections from a Special Payment Agreement and special recovery collection that were both allowed by the Energy Regulatory Commission in August and September 2011, respectively.
They said the collection from these special arrangements would be used to pay electricity bills from the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. that has now ballooned to P1.3 billion.
The SPA is inserted in the consumers’ monthly bills and is equivalent to 10 percent of total monthly bills.
It is in the form of advance payment by the consumers up to December 2014 while the recovery collection resulting from the 2010 operational losses will end in six years until 2017 to meet at least the P440-million goal.
Lawyer Bartolome Rayco, AMSSO president, said Aleco records showed SPA collection as of January 2013 was pegged at P165.6 million and about P100 million from special recovery program in two years’ period.
With these two funds, Rayco said, Aleco had sufficient money to repulse disconnection threats.The 8-man Aleco interim board is headed by Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon as chair.
Both Briones and Baylon have been appeasing the public since last year, appealing help for the cooperative through regular payments of bills and SPA which, they said, were being remitted directly to PEMC to avert disconnection.
Bartolome said, however, that AMSSO received a letter on May 23 from PEMC President Melinda Ocampo, saying Aleco was only paying monthly interests during the past two years whose amount had reached only P52.8 million per AMSSO computation.
“So where are the SPA and special recovery collections which are exclusively for electricity bills?” the AMSSO official asked.
Although Aleco owed total debts of P4 billion from various electricity suppliers, P1.3 billion of which for electricity bills from the PEMC, however, the latter demanded only P67 million to be settled to avoid disconnection, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.
Petilla had earlier demanded disconnection of the first 100 delinquent big-time users as a condition for the restoration of power in Albay.
The second demand was for Aleco to come up with a viable program on how to settle the P1.3 billion electricity bills it owes PEMC.
Angry consumers strongly demanded the release of the list of the top 100 big-time delinquent users but the NEA-Aleco management would not agree.
Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda has called the delinquent big-time users as the oppressive rich.
On Tuesday noon, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines cut off power supply to the entire Albay 15 towns and three cities after Aleco failed to come up with the demanded P67-million payment for current bills for the month of June.
It, however, restored power connection at 5 p.m. Wednesday on request to Petilla by Albay officials who have joined hands for the solution of the problem. (PNA)