‘Consumers to shoulder P62-billion Napocor settlement’
MANILA, Philippines—Electricity consumers will have to pay the cost of the P62-billion settlement with terminated drivers and mechanics of the National Power Corp. (Napocor), officials warned on Thursday.
If the government is forced to pay the back wage claim, it would result in an additional 52 centavos for five years or 26 centavos for 10 years for power consumers, Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., president and chief executive officer of PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.) said.
Facing the Senate committee on energy, Ledesma, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the government would have to pass on to consumers the P62 billion that the Napocor Drivers and Mechanics Association (or NPC-DAMA) has been demanding from them.
“If ever we get to pay that amount as earlier mentioned by Secretary Cesar, we will have to pass that on by a universal charge so again national po ang effect. Babayaran yan sa electricity bill ng taumbayan,” Ledesma told the committee.
It was Purisima , who first warned the committee that paying the garnishment would trigger across default of the existing P329-billion loans of PSALM, which would have a domino effect on other debts of the government.
“So if PSALM were to absorb it, we believe that based on the rough computation of the team, it will result in an increase in universal charge of 0.2122 for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Obviously if we allow across- default which we will never allow, it will also create an additional cost,” Purisima said.
“The question is, are we liable to pay the DAMA employees P62 billion?” Purisima added.
“Just to show the magnitude of P62 billion, that’s almost the budget for the Conditional Cash Transfer for a year covering 4.3 million families. And this is no joke. We believe that this is not a necessary expense of government and has no basis at all,” he said.
Purisima pointed out that when the Napocor was privatized, more than 9,000 employees that were retrenched were paid P1.09 million each for a total of P9.09 billion.
And of the number of retrenched employees, more than 7,000 were immediately hired by the Napocor, PSALM and the National Transmission Corp., Purisima said.
Even Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who was also a resource person in the hearing of the committee, was wondering how the amount being demanded from the government reached P62 billion when the employees were already given their severance pay.
“I was just wondering if they were paid P9.09 billion at one and half months rate for every year of service, how did we come to P62 billion when one-third were hired the day after and two-thirds were hired within a month? So what back wages and what benefits were lost within a period of one day or within a period of one month?” Abad said.
“So we’d be very reluctant to consider this amount until we get the COA (Commission on Audit), for example, to look closely into how this P62 billion came about? Who were paid? How much were they paid? And what was the formula used in computing the corresponding back wages and benefit losses?” Abad added.