Abra folk urge gov’t to take over power co-op | Inquirer News
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Abra folk urge gov’t to take over power co-op

/ 04:48 AM November 24, 2014

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Consumers in Abra province have started a petition urging President Aquino to order a take-over of their rural electric cooperative, which was spared for a second time from a disconnection notice from its power supplier last week.

Abra faced a major power loss on Nov. 17 because Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) failed to pay its P30-million arrears to Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc. (Apri).

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Abra was confronted with the same problem in January 2013 when Apri terminated Abreco’s supply contract for reneging on its payments and for issuing 15 unfunded checks to Apri during the duration of the contract, the Apri website said.

But the police and the Department of Energy (DOE) intervened, convincing Apri to agree to a conditional extension of the contract.

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Last week, however, Abreco announced that Apri again sent it a disconnection notice.

On Nov. 18, Abreco advanced P9.7 million of its P16-million obligation for its November consumption, stopping the shutdown.

But consumers began circulating the petition on Thursday, shortly after 700 people gathered at a church in the capital Bangued town to hold a prayer rally against Abreco, said Carmencita Bersalona, a local peace convener, in a telephone interview.

In their petition to the President, a copy of which was sent to the Inquirer on Saturday, the consumers asked Aquino to send “a team of financial, technical and management experts from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to immediately take over the management of Abreco.”

The consumers also urged Aquino to review the audit reports and prosecute the people responsible for Abreco’s alleged mismanagement.

Their petition cited a Feb. 4, 2013, affidavit purportedly signed by Abreco general manager Loreto Seares Jr. who promised the DOE he would resign should he fail to settle the debts being collected in 2013.

Transparency

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Bersalona said consumers were outraged by the absence of transparency regarding Abreco’s operations and its debts.

She said consumers were entitled to answers concerning the utility’s performance, but Abreco had not called a general assembly since 2012.

Instead, Abreco announced it would hold elections in December for the members of its board of directors whose terms had expired, she said.

The consumers urged Mr. Aquino to “help us solve the worsening problems of our cooperative especially in the past three years.”

“Abreco [had] failed to pay [Apri] the monthly electricity purchased by the cooperative leading to seven notices of disconnection, [the] latest of which was on Nov. 17, 2014,” their petition said.

“Two [previous electricity supply] disconnections had actually taken place. In one occasion, the provincial government of Abra even used its calamity fund as approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pay NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) for [the power supply] to resume,” it said.

“There are deep financial, technical and institutional problems [in Abreco] as indicated in the Comprehensive Audit Report of the NEA covering June 2010 to June 2013,” the petition said.

It said this included P400 million in arrears being collected by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.

Bersalona said consumers representing 10 percent of the Abreco general membership had filed two resolutions, on Nov. 28, 2012, (with 4,332 signatories) and Jan. 9, 2013, (with 3,239 signatories), seeking a special general assembly. Abreco had not addressed the resolutions, she said.–Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Abra, Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco), electric cooperative, Philippines - Regions, power co-op
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