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Senate approves NEPC franchise bill on 2nd reading

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The granting of a franchise to the Negros Electric Power Corp., to maintain an electric power distribution in key localities of Negros Occidental, is steadily inching towards approval by the Philippine Senate.

The Senate approved on its second reading on Monday night the granting of a franchise to NEPC, which was pushed by Senator Grace Poe, who also introduced some amendments.

House Bill 9805 seeks to grant NEPC a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.

The franchise is specifically intended to serve the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, as well as the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto, in the province of Negros Occidental, for 25 years.

Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros introduced a provision on House Bill No. 9805 that would uphold the security of tenure of the displaced employees of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO).

During the period of amendment on HB 9805, Hontiveros proposed the inclusion of a provision that would ensure the security of tenure for CENECO employees, as provided by law and relevant jurisprudence.

“The right of employees to security of tenure is of greater value even than the commitment of jobs by the grantee,” Hontiveros said as she moved to divide the house.

Poe, the sponsor of the bill, noted that NEPC respected tenure, and besides severance pay to be granted to affected employees of CENECO, they would also be allowed to reapply to the new corporation.*

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