THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) took over the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) by force.
NEA, which created a task force purportedly to assist the ailing electric cooperative, instead rubbed salt to its wounds when it rammed through a takeover Friday, February 10, deactivating the Abreco board of directors and installing a new general manager without the benefit of due process, said general manager Loreto Seares Jr.
“We deplore the takeover in the strongest terms possible,” he said, adding: "It (was) a blatant adventurism which disregards the ongoing negotiations with the Philippine Electric Market Corporation (PEMC)."
The PEMC earlier issued a suspension notice to Abreco from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) where the cooperative has been buying its supply since three years ago.
Seares said NEA is using the notice of WESM as a window of opportunity and an embankment ground for the advancement of its own agenda.
The former general manager also said that NEA, which had not been assisting Abreco since 2003, is following through with its systematic dismantling of small electric cooperatives (EC) with the eventual aim of exposing the hapless ECs to the bidding and buying spree of big businesses, particularly multinationals.
“We cannot allow and will not allow NEA to consummate its greed at the expense of our 51,000 member-consumer. We will exhaust all legal remedies to prevent the devastation of Abreco at the bloody hands of the intruders,” added Seares.
Seares also said that PEMC erred in issuing a suspension notice because they have paid their obligation this month while they have submitted a restructuring proposal to PEMC of the cooperative’s P206 million arrears.
“We paid P11 million, so the arrears should appear as P195M only,” said Seares.
The NEA Task Force was created by President Rodrigo Duterte to come up with a strategic plan to bring the Abra power cooperative back to life.
The task force is chaired by NEA Deputy Administrator Goldelio Rivera and NEA board president Reynaldo Lazo, general manager Felino Herbert Agdigos of the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, board president Gloria Corrales, general manager Felino Agdigos of the Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative, Benguet Electric Cooperative president Rocky Aliping, and Beneco general manager Gerardo Verzosa.
The task force will serve as Abreco’s board of directors and conduct a strategic development planning workshop and come up with a detailed action plan.
Rivera said the creation of the task force is due to the electric cooperative’s failure to meet the operational and financial standards and parameters set and prescribed by the NEA and considering the material and significant adverse audit findings on its operation as contained in the Comprehensive Audit Report submitted by Electric Cooperative Audit Department dated May 10, 2017 covering July 1, 2003 to October 31, 2016.
The former board of directors of Abreco, via a board resolution after the NEA takeover, questioned the jurisdiction of the NEA over the electric cooperative since it is registered under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
Meanwhile, Abra Representative Joseph Bernos, via House Resolution 1661, which was co-authored by 1-Care Party-List Representative Carlos Uybarreta, called on the Department of Energy to halt the PEMC from suspending the participation of Abreco from WESM, which according to the legislators, poses a huge problem for Abra.
"The agency's intervention is badly needed to assure the people of Abra that their households and livelihood will continue to receive electricity," Bernos said.
He reiterated that "electricity is an indispensable need to light our homes and to keep businesses in operation."
The lawmaker is certain interruption of electricity supply will have adverse and damaging effects for the welfare of the Abra people.
An Abreco consumer recently filed before the Ombudsman graft and corruption charges against former officials of Abreco, NEA officials and others involved in a supposedly “ghost” multi-million peso dam project that until now is being paid even if it did not materialize.
Seares also blamed the NEA for not aiding the cooperative even as it had long been seeking reimbursement for its completed sitio and barangay electrification programs out from its own shallow pockets that has piled all the more its fiscal problems. (Ace Alegre)