CONSUMER rights advocates group Power Watch Negros Advocate (PWNA) questioned the alleged excessive salary increases of the supervisors and confidential employees of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco).

Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of PWNA, said Friday, February 3, the “big time” salary increases, which were implemented in October 2022, ranged from P4,000 to P5,000 per month.

“This was done surreptitiously at a time when Ceneco is suffering from financial hemorrhage due to its huge financial indebtedness to banks and power suppliers. The beneficiaries of this pampering scheme are about 80 employees of Ceneco,” he said.

He added that this is an abuse of management prerogative in as much as Ceneco supervisors are already receiving salaries of about P50,000 per month on average, plus their fat bonuses, allowances, and other forms of emoluments.

“While the Ceneco consumers are reeling from the high cost of electricity. The supervisors and confidential employees are enjoying their exceptional salary increases in confusing abundance,” Sancho stressed.

Sancho noted that during a Ceneco consumers’ assembly on October 2, 2022, he inquired from the Board of Directors if there was an increase in the salaries of the supervisors.

“Their answer was a resounding no. But now, three months after that assembly salary increases were implemented. Who is telling the truth? Again, the consumers were hoodwinked. Isn't it another stab in the back? This is too much,” Sancho said.

He said in December 2022, there was a rebate in the consumer’s electric bill due to market-dictated prices such as the decrease in the price of coal in the world market and the exclusion of the feed-in-tariff among others.

Unfortunately, he added that the rebates only served as a subterfuge to conceal the mysterious implementation of these excessive wage increases.

“For Power Watch this practice of pampering the supervisors with excessive wage increases is arbitrary, whimsical and capricious at the chronic expense of the consumers. It is also a form of arrogance, an abuse of power, and a manifestation of mismanagement

Those who were responsible for this irresponsible decision violated the austerity measures imposed by National Electrification Administration (NEA) on an electric cooperative,” Sancho said.

He said the proponents of this unethical scheme are behaving as if they are the owners of Ceneco by invoking their absolute prerogative to approve salary increases to those whom they like or favor and nobody can stop or question them making Ceneco like a milking cow.

“This is an added form of injustice to the consumers who are being made to pay for the power supply that they did not use due to incompetent contracting and lopsided power supply agreement. There should be a total revamp of Ceneco management from top to bottom to cleanse it from alleged graft and corruption that is a part of its system,” he added.

Ceneco could not be reached for comment as of this writing.