By Vince Casilihan
Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) is the first electric cooperative organized in the Bicol region in 1972 for the primary purpose of undertaking power generation, utilizing renewable energy sources, acquisition and operation of sub-transmission or distribution of electricity services to its household members.
Aleco has thrice been under the direct management of National Electrification Administration (NEA) for more than a decade that ended in 2006. In 2008, Aleco forged another “operation and maintenance” (O & M) contract with the National Power Corp (NAPOCOR) for one year upon recommendation of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in his bid to save the ailing cooperative, then on February 22, 2010 – Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ALECO) is under the Operation and Management Contract of the National Power Corporation (2009) but it was arbitrarily terminated by the Board of Director, despite of the recorded positive changes of operation.
April 23, 2010 – The Diocese of Legazpi Chancery issued a PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 02, Series of 2010, calling for the ALECO Board of Directors and the Politicians to decide for the welfare of the Albayanos, the transparency and accountability and ensure the cooperative status of ALECO.
July 14, 2010 – formation of the ALECO Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization (AMSSO).
February 10, 2011 – NEA PS/AGM Paulino T. Lopez take over the ALECO operation and management. The ALECO debts to PEMC already ballooned to 974 Million Pesos in less than a year due to WESM spike, rampant corruptions and mismanagement that was captured in the NEA Audit report. His accomplishment is the 22% system loss became 25% in his one year term and accumulated an additional debt from the current power purchases.
February 11, 2011 – Due to intensified media campaign and mass rallies by the consumer group like the AMSSO, the ALECO Board of Director was forced to resign.
September 3, 2011 – Introduction of the Coop to Coop Partnership Proposal (C2C), a turn-around program for ALECO which was written by Prof Rowaldo de Mundo of the University of the Philippines, National Engineering Centre, to the Stakeholders Forum. The Albay Congressmen are present, the business sector and media.
November 30, 2011 – The ALECO SGMA rejected the Private Sector Participation Parameters.
January 2012 – The Diocese of Legazpi Chancery issued a PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 01, Series of 2012. Titled Renewal, Reform and Rehabilitation – A Pastoral Letter on the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) which called for; 1. The welfare of Albayanos is the first priority. 2. The preservation of our cooperative nature is our preferred position. 3. Obligations should be acknowledged and settled. 4. Transparency and accountability need to be ensured in the service of truth and justice, and; 5. Real rehabilitation will be realized only through meaningful reforms.
July 16, 2012 – PS Lopez was recalled to NEA Head Office and was replaced by PS Veronica Briones with a concurrent capacity of General Manager of Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative 4, Inc.
February 1, 2013 – During the Interim Board meeting NEA railroaded the Private Sector Participation and under pressure of PEMC disconnection NEA threatened to pull out of ALECO if the Board pursue with the C2C. PS Briones said that NEA’s stand is for PSP. NEA methodically scrapped the C2C Proposal even if it was already completed. NEA should put it in black and white if they want to remove the C2C program, Dir. Villalon said, but PS Veronica Briones answered that the Board should decide that matter.
Before this Man Made Disaster happen Aleco was categorized as an effective electricity distribution facility in the 1972-1994 period. The cooperative’s debts started ballooning in 1994 when under NEA management, Aleco I, II and III were merged into one operation.
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.
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 argued then that privatization will help NAPOCOR pay its huge debts and electric power rates will become cheaper because of competition. Amidst the people’s strong opposition while this laws was still pending in Congress, the US-Arroyo regime railroaded its passage.
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 so there is no reason for it to become heavily ridden in debted except for the reasons above cited. The indebtedness and near bankruptcy of ALECO is systematically designed to render all other option untenable expect privatization.
The US-Aquino regime ins exerting all-out efforts to place ALECO under the control of private corporations as intended by EPIRA Law. This, NEA ‘s intervention in the affairs of the electric cooperative is purposive. To fast track the process, NEA appointed Atty. Briones as ALECO’s project supervisor. ALECO Interim Board of Director yielded to the pressure of NEA, dismissed the Coop-to-Coop option and adopted the PSP parameters.
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 regressiove and anti-poor. Let us join our efforts to oppose ALECO privatization and frustrate the private sector participation option. let us fight for cheapest electric power rates for all Albayanos.