OPINION: The Pilferage of Patrimony (1st of 2 parts) by VS Perdigon

APEC MERALCO is out on a disconnection spree.


It accuses Albayanos of “pilferage”.

Pilferage is the act of taking what one does not own.

Our geothermal energy, our patrimony, has been pilfered from us by private interests for their own benefit.

Albay produces more than 247 megawatts of power.

At present, the province needs only 63 megawatts.

Yet, we are so burdened with the problems on electricity.

Our electric cooperative was also pilfered from us.

It was accomplished in stages.

Starting in 1994, it was driven into bankruptcy by politicians and their stooges who milked it for personal and political purposes.

The same crooks would later push for its privatization.

On November 30, 2011 the ALECO General Assembly rejected privatization which had taken the face of Private Sector Participation (PSP).

In December 2011 the Crisis Management Committee agreed to implement the alternative solution called Cooperative-to-Cooperative (C2C) Partnership.

Three months later, the privateers resurrected PSP by calling for simultaneous General Assemblies on March 24, 2012 in three separate venues: Tabaco, Legazpi and Ligao.

They hauled participants.

As to how those three assemblies of member-consumers could deliberate, debate with each other and arrive at a common decision while staying in separate venues (there was no Skype) is a mystery in the history of meetings.

It had no basis in the ALECO By-Laws.

PSP advocates, especially the politicians, began to claim that the Crisis Management Committee led by Bishop Joel Baylon was legitimately converted into an Interim Board of Directors with mandate to implement PSP.

On February 1, 2013, the ALECO Interim Board of Directors, now led by the Bishop, held a meeting.

It started at 10:40 am with the Board having no decision yet on whether to choose Cooperative-to-Cooperative Partnership or Private Sector Participation.

By 4:35 pm the Board had chosen PSP.

What happened within 5 hours and 55 minutes?

According to the minutes of that meeting, in lines 178 to 179: “Atty. Briones said that the stand of NEA is for PSP . . . PSP is the most sustainable solution for ALECO for now. If the Board will choose Coop-to-Coop Program then NEA will pull out from the coop.”

PSP is the result, not of a “rigorous study” but a “vigorous arm-twisting”.

In May 2013 the ALECO Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization filed a petition for TRO against the implementation of PSP; it was granted; the AMSSO filed a Motion for Prohibition to Bid; the next hearing was set on August 7, 2013.

On August 7, 2013 bidding was conducted at Venezzia Hotel.

There was only one bidder, San Miguel Corporation.

Aboitiz Power Renewables, Inc., Energy Development Corporation, and MERALCO simply backed out.

PSP advocates say it was not irregular.

(In September 2016, San Miguel had run into serious financial troubles in ALECO. It sought the assistance of MERALCO. What could be a better circumstantial evidence of connivance among the players in the power industry?)

On August 15, 2013 Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla came and announced in Venezzia Hotel that there would be a referendum to decide between PSP and C2C.

Again, this process has no basis in the ALECO By-Laws.

(To be continued…)

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