Palawan’s electric coop ousts general manager
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – The newly reconstituted management board of Palawan’s Electric Cooperative (Paleco) has moved to oust its own general manager, as the cooperative buckles down to work to resolve pending major power supply contract deals, including a controversial plan to put up a coal fired power plant.
Insiders at the cooperative described a series of closed-door meetings that culminated Tuesday as “a de facto takeover” of Capitol over Paleco, a private franchise to distribute electric supply within mainland Palawan.
But while Gov. Jose Alvarez had publicly expressed dislike for the management of the electric cooperative in several public speeches, Capitol has kept mum on the ouster bid of Paleco General Manager Rohima Sarra.
“We passed a resolution allowing the general manager to resign. We acted on our own volition,” Paleco Board Chairman Raymond Acosta told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Acosta denied claims made by insiders that certain Capitol officials had been closely conferring with newly elected cooperative directors prior to Tuesday’s board meeting.
Most members of the Paleco board are newly elected while some are openly supported by Capitol officials during their elections.
Provincial information officer Gil Acosta, when contacted by Inquirer, did not reply to questions concerning Sarra’s ouster.
Sarra declined to be interviewed following the board meeting and was reportedly undecided whether to take the severance package offered by her board or remain as executive head of the cooperative.
Paleco chairman Acosta admitted they had “no cause” to boot Sarra out of office, admitting no administrative complaint has been filed against her.
He did not explain, however, how the majority of the board members arrived at its decision to offer her a termination package.
“We discussed it among ourselves, then we agreed to pass the resolution to allow her to resign and recognize her services,” he said.
Paleco earlier threatened to cancel its contract with DMCI Powers, a Consunji-led firm, which earlier won a long term supply agreement to put up a 25-megawatt power plant fed with coal from it’s Semirara quarry in Antique.
The cooperative had sent DMCI a notice of default after the company failed to accomplish its plan to put up the power facility in time.
The coal plan is openly backed by the provincial government despite a petition from environmentalists and Aborlan residents, where the plant is to be built, opposing it.
Apart from DMCI’s contract, Paleco sources claimed that Capitol has applied pressure on Paleco to allow a separate company to make an unsolicited offer for another 25-MW hybrid facility that will connect northern Palawan to the existing main grid in the central mainland.
The provincial government has also laid down plans to bankroll major power infrastructure projects with funds expected to be funneled to Paleco from the province’s share from Malampaya royalty proceeds.
Paleco holds the distribution franchise for all of mainland Palawan that include Puerto Princesa City and the outlying towns, from El Nido in the north to Balabac in the south.
Consumers in the province currently pay P8 per kilowatt-hour while the National Power Corp. subsidize the remaining power cost of P8 per kwh.
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