POWER Watch Negros is challenging the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) Board to explain in details the rationale of its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Aboitiz Power Corporation on the proposed purchase of 80 percent of power from the latter.

Power Watch Negros secretary general and lead convenor Wennie Sancho yesterday said the proponents for the said agreement must explain to the Ceneco consumers about the deal.

Aboitiz Power Corporation is building a 340-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, Cebu. It reportedly wants to sell 80 percent of its output to Ceneco.

The members of Power Watch fear that this will lead to the privatization of Ceneco, whose ownership presently belongs to the consumer-members.

Sancho said they formed Power Watch Negros to drumbeat their opposition to the proposed agreement. He said the deal would be consummated if the Ceneco consumers will not register their vehement opposition.

Sancho said the proposed agreement should be ratified by all Ceneco member-consumers though a general assembly called for such purpose or in a referendum.

This issue shall be brought to the bar of public opinion because the Ceneco Board failed to inform the consumers about this crucial agreement that involves our future as Ceneco consumers and that of our children.

Agreement

Sancho said that some of the salient features of the proposed MOA include the request of Ceneco for assistance in auditing its operations, identifying risk and inefficiencies and designing solutions leading to improvements.

The agreement further stipulates that Ceneco shall provide Aboitiz Power with access to all records, documents, equipment, facilities and or employees, almost everything, as maybe required by Aboitiz Power, as if they are the owner of Ceneco and we have surrendered to them our collective rights as members of this electric cooperative, all of these were done courtesy of the Ceneco Board who are involved in this highly questionable proposed agreement which is inimical to the interest of the Ceneco consumers, Power Watch said.

The request was done in consideration of the widely recognized expertise of Aboitiz Power in the management, ownership and operation of distribution system in the Philippines.

Power Watch said this is an outright admission that Ceneco is inefficient because it needs to outsource the expert services of Aboitiz Power in the guise of willingness to share Aboitiz Power’s wealth and knowledge and skills in identifying problems, deficiencies and inefficiencies in the distribution facilities which is merely a cover-up for privatization of our basic utilities.

On the matters of opinion and advice, the proposed agreement stipulates that Aboitiz Power shall not be liable for any opinion and or advice rendered under this agreement, whether made in writing or otherwise, it being understood that any such opinion or advice shall be considered only a recommendation.

The group said this is a lopsided agreement for Aboitiz Power to absolve itself from any liability or liabilities that may arise in the future upon the execution of this proposed agreement.

“We have to bear in mind that if this agreement will be finally signed, this will become binding to all Ceneco consumers. Our economic welfare and interest here are at stake, but like the constant brown out and blackout Ceneco is keeping us in the dark while the Board are forging a crucial document that could lead to the possible sell out of Ceneco to Aboitiz Power, opening the floodgates of privatization in the power industry which is the order of the day that we dreaded most,” Sancho said.

“We vehemently opposed the said agreement as this will be a sell-out of our interest, an abdication of our consumer rights and Ceneco would be ceded to Aboitiz power at our own expense. Let us not allow the Board to give Ceneco to Aboitiz Power in a silver platter. This is our electric cooperative and the decision making process involving us and not the exclusive prerogative of the CENECO Board of Directors," the group said.

"The privatization of our basic utilities like water and power would be grossly disadvantageous to us as increases in our electric bills will be sky-rocketing. Huge profit and corporate greed shall be the guiding principle of privatization rather than providing an efficient service to the basic needs of the people,” they added.