By Virgilio S. Perdigon, Jr.
As reported, negotiations are still ongoing between ALECO and San Miguel. At this stage, ALECO Management and the IBOD have no option but to embrace San Miguel’s offer. And that is not good for member-consumers. If they reject the offer, the sole recourse is nothing. This is the ironic result of the September 14 referendum which the pro-PSP determined to “win” by the proverbial “hook or crook.”
San Miguel, on the other hand, can withdraw. It stands to lose P555 million plus (P500 M plus for the power supplied to ALECO, P50 M for the September bill paid to PEMC, P5 M for operational expenses). However, it will not really be finally written off. Should C2C be given a try, San Miguel will eventually be paid. That would mean, of course that the ALECO Management and the IBOD must resign en masse.
Indeed, the ALECO Management and IBOD are in a very weak position in the ongoing duel for terms. They worked so hard, foully even, to “win” the referendum only to end up in such a sorry state. San Miguel, nevertheless, cannot prolong the negotiations. It has to prevail soon enough or withdraw, also soon enough (to stop subsidizing ALECO’s financial bleeding). Here is another irony: any delay only transfers cash to other power producers which are in fact San Miguel’s competitors in the generation of electricity.
The real referendum, it can be said, is the prompt payment by member-consumers. If they boycott in protest over the fake referendum, then ALECO Management, IBOD and San Miguel are in deep trouble. Vote-buying in this time will not work. No politician can give P20 to P150 to member-consumers so that the latter will pay P700, P1400 or whatever amount for their electric bills. The 5,000+ who voted for PSP are no match to the 195,000+ who did not vote on September 14. This time, the politicians’ money is the underdog to the member-consumers’ total bill.
Before September 14, ALECO could threaten San Miguel with resort to C2C. Today, such a bargaining chip can only be matched with a counter-threat: go ahead; under C2C San Miguel will not have to shed cash monthly for the benefit of its competitors; it will only bide its time and get paid anyway. So, their referendum “victory” led both ALECO and San Miguel to a sorry state. Again, be careful with what you wish for . . .
Engr. Virgilio S. Perdigon, Jr. – Professor, Aquinas University; Spokesperson – Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance and member of ALECO Multi Sectoral Stakeholders Organization (AMSS).