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Gatchalian wants ‘greater accountability’ on electric co-ops

/ 12:46 PM February 07, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Win Gatchalian has called on Congress to “impose greater accountability” on underperforming electric cooperatives (ECs) to improve power services across the country.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, made the call after the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the review of the financial and technical performance of the ECs as he warned underperforming ECs of a possible cancellation of their franchises.

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“Panahon na rin para i-assess ng Kongreso kung dapat bang magpatuloy sa pag-operate ang mga non-performing electric coops at private distribution utilities sa pamamagitan ng pagsuri sa performance ng mga ito,” Gatchalian said in a statement Thursday.

“I believe Congress’ assessment will impose greater accountability on these underperforming distribution utilities to the benefit of the consumers,” he added.

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While he supports the DOE’s move to hold distribution utilities accountable, Gatchalian noted that the department “should have a clear policy and procedure on the recommendation for revocation before actually submitting their recommendation to Congress.”

In a statement Wednesday, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi assured ECs of due process in their performance review, but warned that those in “dire cases” should face the consequences.

Cusi pointed out that 17 ECs had been chronically failing to provide satisfactory services required by their electric distribution franchise.

These included DANECO (Davao del Norte), ALECO (Albay), BASELCO (Basilan), CASURECO III (Camarines Sur), FICELCO (Catanduanes), LASURECO (Lanao), MASELCO (Masbate), OMECO (Occidental Mindoro), ORMECO (Oriental Mindoro) , PALECO (Palawan), PELCO (Pampanga), SULECO (Sulu), and ZAMCELCO (Zamboanga).

The energy chief said that residents in these areas have been complaining of persistent and unresolved power outages after some electric cooperatives incurred heavy debts and had failed to pay for their power supply over several years.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte also publicly expressed his dissatisfaction over poor electric services, particularly in Palawan and Masbate. /muf

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