Albay consumers vow boycott of electricity payments to APEC

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Photo by Ephraim de Vera
Photo by Ephraim de Vera

By Joey Natividad

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, 01April2014 (BicolToday.com) — Boycott of payments of electricity consumed by Albay consumers is in the offing as consumer groups vowed to continue opposing San Miguel Energy Corporation’s takeover of operations of the bankrupt Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), now re-named as APEC.

During a recently-concluded meeting, the consumer groups questioned the legal personality of APEC in the collection of payments of electricity bills.

“Member-consumers cannot and should not be obligated to pay their electric consumption bills to an entity which has no legal personality to collect in the first place,” said the groups in agreement over their planned protest actions.

“The agreed terms of reference made no mention of any subsidiary corporation as concessionaire. The inclusion of APEC as a subsidiary corporation into the signed concession agreement is therefore legally infirm. Thus, why then would member-consumers tender payment of their electric consumption bills to an entity whose liability is not clear?,” declared the consumer groups.

The joint declaration was participated by different consumer groups, members of the academe, and members from the media.

The resource speakers included; Ephraim De Vera, from the ALECO-UNION, Engr. Virgilio Perdigon, Vince Casilihan, Spokesperson- Karapatan- Bikol, Lawyer Ernesto Nocos, the Legal Professional, and Dante La. Jimenez, President and Founding Chairman of VACC/ Consumers Rights Watch Bicol (CROW Bicol).

The consumer groups also questioned the numerous legal infirmities of the signed concession agreement, its nullification shall cause all the justifications relied upon by APEC to collect the electric consumption bills due the member-consumers to cease.

“The question now would be:With the nullification of the concession agreement, how then would the collected electric consumption bills from those member-consumers be refunded? By whom, and through what arrangement?”,they farther hurled the question.

“The collection of bills by APEC, an entity not itself a party to the concession agreement is premature and without legal basis, not to mention the numerous cases filed against the corporation attacking its legal personality, and the validity of the signed concession agreement itself,” said the groups.

Farther issues were discussed, such as to the manner of electric consumption billings, and how the figures were arrived at, not to mention the burdensome system loss being passed on, the member consumers as owners of the cooperative itself deserve to be adequately apprised as regards these matters of public concern.

The consumer groups vowed the battle is not yet over, and urged all Albayanos to continue the fight, and claim for what rightfully belong to them. [BicolToday.com]

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