• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The secretary general of Power Watch Negros Advocates yesterday stressed that they are not sowing fear among consumer members of Central Negros Electric Cooperative since they are a watchdog and only want to strengthen and build up the power utility firm.
Wennie Sancho was reacting to the appeal of National Electrification Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda for consumer’s groups “not to sow fear and intrigue among member-consumers of Ceneco.”
Almeda had said that as far as NEA is concerned, “there is no reason for us to think ill, that Ceneco is being mismanaged.” He also appealed to the consumer groups to allow Ceneco officials to do their work since they are trying to negotiate the rates. He believes that the prevailing generation rate of P10/kWh is within the accepted price rate in the market.
Sancho said Almeda should have consulted the proper people not the people in Ceneco because all indications will show that Ceneco is an ailing cooperative.
Power Watch recently spearheaded the launching of Save and Protect the Ceneco Consumers (SPCC), which urged NEA to declare Ceneco an ailing cooperative, citing its indebtedness of P54 million in security bond which Kepco-KSPC is demanding, including accrued bank interest; its differential billing from Kepco-KSPC regarding the 20 MW extension amounting to P259 million; its systems losses; and interest from loans.
“We are not sowing unnecessary fear. This is part of a democratic process. The people have the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and it is within our constitutional right to say what we want to express,” Sancho said adding that matters of public concern should not be withheld from the consumers.
After all, Ceneco is an institution imbued with public interest and it is not free from criticism like all other government officials. They should not be onion-skinned. They should face the issue by answering the complaining party and establish a dialog between the consumers and the people from NEA and the power utility firm, he added.
Sancho said Ceneco should not call them member-consumer-members (MCOs) if they do not have access to records such as contracts and other documents for reason of the confidentiality clause, he said.
“We respect NEA, so NEA should also respect our rights to criticize. We are not here to destroy Ceneco but are here to strengthen and build it up since it is actually ailing. I want to see Ceneco as an institution that is really pro-people and is really serving the interest of the people rather than a cooperative, which is not actually a true cooperative,” he said.
If it is to be accepted as a genuine cooperative, Ceneco should be returned to the people, Sancho said.
“Let us bring back Ceneco to the people because it belongs to the people. It is their cooperative. It is not the cooperative of the office or members of the Board of Ceneco,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sancho said they would like to believe that newly installed acting Ceneco general manager Arnel Lapore will be able to manage Ceneco as it should be managed – a genuine cooperative for the people.
He is not new in Ceneco as he has served as president of the Ceneco Board. He is more in the position to exercise value judgement because he knows the issues affecting Ceneco, and would be able to provide solutions. But if he reneges on his advocacy to reform Ceneco, then that is another story, he added.*