Negros Occidental

Negros church leaders, power consumers call on NEA administrator Almeda to resign

Reymund Titong

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Negros church leaders, power consumers call on NEA administrator Almeda to resign

ADVOCATE. South Negros Power Advocates' lead convenor Irene Viason talks to power consumers of Ilog town in Negros Occidental on June 10.

Reymund Titong

Irene Viason, the lead convenor of South Negros Power Advocates, claims the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative was not ailing when it was taken over by the National Electrification Administration

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Even though power consumers of the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) felt relieved as its power rate dropped for June, concerns about internal manipulation persisted among power advocates.

A petition signed by more than a thousand member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of NOCECO cited the management committee appointed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) entering into an emergency power supply agreement (EPSA) without presenting it during the Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) on April 6, which disregarded the rights of power consumers. 

“Even before the takeover of NEA, the former board of directors and general manager have already endorsed a power supply agreement (PSA) with Kepco Salcon Power Corporation at fixed and reasonable rates but was not favorably acted upon and endorsed by NEA to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” a portion of the statement read. 

Irene Viason, the lead convenor of South Negros Power Advocates (SNPA), stated NOCECO is a public utility cooperative and, therefore, is imbued with the public interest. She emphasized the government should work towards developing its economic growth and viability to promote social justice.

She said NEA’s takeover of NOCECO was a harrowing abuse of power because the agency only has supervisory and oversight authority over the electric cooperative. Taking control is beyond the agency’s mandate unless the cooperative is ailing.

Viason claimed NOCECO is not “ailing” and disclosed that the cooperative had about P600 million in the bank before its former officials were sacked, proving the cooperative was not in peril and that NEA had no step-in rights.

Since October 2023, the executive committee appointed by NEA has been temporarily managing NOCECO after removing the cooperative’s general manager and board of directors. 

Viason called on NEA administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda to step down from his position, citing his alleged “manipulation of the cooperative’s internal operations” and “lack of effectiveness in assisting the MCOs of NOCECO.”

Viason noted that NEA’s delay in securing approval of the power agreement with Kepco Salcon in 2023 before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) led to the cooperative’s excessive exposure in the Wholesale Energy Spot Market (WESM). This subsequently resulted in an excessive power rate of NOCECO. 

Meanwhile, Meanwhile, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest Numeriano Maquiran supported Viason’s call, saying that under Almeda’s leadership, almost two hundred thousand MCOs suffered from the alleged abuse of power and urged an end to it to avoid further strain for the power consumers. 

Power consumers also urged Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., to reinstate the cooperative’s sacked general manager and board of directors, and organize a special election to prevent further mismanagement and potential insolvency, which could attract big companies to forge a joint venture agreement. – Rappler.com

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