FORMER Bacolod City congressman and former mayor Monico Puentevella expressed dismay over a house bill authored by incumbent Congressman Greg Gasataya which will grant a farmworkers multipurpose cooperative the franchise to provide electricity in Negros Island.
Puentevella, who is now running for congressman, said House Bill (HB) 8827 or an Act granting Gamboa Hermanos Farmworkers Multipurpose Cooperative (GHFMPC) a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate, own, manage and maintain distribution systems for the conveyance of electric power to the end-users in the Island of Negros, was already approved by Congress on first reading.
“Unknown to many of us and without the benefit of any consultation with our people, Gasataya spearheaded the bill. First of all, Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) has been servicing Bacolod City and nearby cities and municipalities since 1976 and has shown its expertise and capability in providing enough power for our households especially in Bacolod,” he said.
He added that privatizing Ceneco and replacing it with a farmworkers cooperative to handle power distribution and management beg so many questions that need to be asked.
Puentevella noted that the GHFMPC was based in San Carlos City.
“If they will be given a franchise (GHFMPC) all the electric cooperatives in Negros Island will also stop its operation including Ceneco,” Puentevella said.
He said it’s a big issue and very disadvantageous to the electric cooperatives as well as to the consumers.
He added at present, Ceneco is the best electrification company in Visayas.
Puentevella also encouraged all the electric cooperatives in Negros Occidental to issue their stand in said bill.
Gasataya earlier asked his rival to disabuse the mindset that there is hidden agenda behind the Electric Power Industry Bill (EPIB).
Gasataya, who is also seeking a second term, said that the EPIB or HB 8827, was filed as a prelude to the expiry of the franchise of Ceneco in 2022.
“This should keep Ceneco prepared. And they have to be ready when that time comes. I'm more than willing by then to be also the main author of a bill for their application for franchise renewal,” Gasataya said.
He said that he had already briefed the coop's executives on the salient features of the proposed measure.
“There is nothing hidden there as implied,” he added. (MAP)