Resign Cusi campaign continues after the ‘non-dialogue’ in Davao City
Tension between rural electric cooperatives and the Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi seems to be heightened after the latter’s non-appearance on the scheduled open dialogue on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.
The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) earlier issued a statement that electric cooperatives leaders were willing to have a dialogue with the DOE Secretary following the National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edgardo Masongsong’s call for a peaceful dialogue to resolve prevailing issues affecting total electrification. PHILRECA, however, asserts the venue in Davao City is a “neutral ground” to freely express their respective policy positions, instead of the DOE.
GM Adriano Ebcas of CAMELCO remarked, “Secretary Cusi is saying they are a government office, a government institution, and that his office is always open for anyone. If the people whom he claim to serve is asking to meet with him, why not bring the government to the people?”
GM Janeene D. Colingan (PHILRECA) expressed her dismay and disappointment to Cusi’s no show, “How can we settle difference if our simple request of invitation for dialogue cannot be entertained?”
GM Adelmo Laput of ZANECO and Pres. Louisito Gregorio of DORECO said they felt insulted and dismayed as well in Cusi’s non-attendance saying most of the participants have exerted extra efforts just to have the dialogue with the Energy Secretary but the latter seem to be utterly dismissing the idea. With no dialogue with the Energy Secretary or any of his representative taking place, PHILRECA officials and EC leaders continued the event with a press conference, wherein they tackled and reacted to the different issues and concerns affecting the rural electric cooperatives.
On Budget Cut
In the congressional budget hearing last year, Energy Secretary has consistently refused the offer of some legislators to restore the budget cut. Sec. Cusi claimed that the coops have the resources to implement electrification and energization projects. For Rodrigo B. Sacedor, “because of the budget cut, missionary areas cannot be reached. Without sufficient fund, the ECs, being nonstock and nonprofit, will not have any fund to implement the government’s electrification program.”
As for Presley De Jesus, “Sec. Cusi is not well informed in the setup of the cooperatives as being nonstock and nonprofit. The government subsidies are being used for energization projects so that the consumers do not have to shoulder the cost of such projects. Since we are a non-profit private entity, where do we get the resources to pay for such projects, if we do not let the government subsidize it? From the consumers?”
Dir. Lopito Lloyd Valdez of PHILFECO added, “How can you do your job if you are deprived of funds?”
On HB 8179, Solar Para Sa Bayan, and Preference to Private For-Profit Corporations
PHILRECA and its member-coops have opposed the granting of franchise to Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) ever since its application. Sec. Cusi has openly endorsed the corporation and the approval of the House Bill 8179.
Sacedor asked, “Why is the Sec. Cusi quick in acting when it comes to private corporations?” Pres. Corazon D. Cullantes of AMRECO clarified that they are not against SPSB’s intention to help in the energization efforts of the government.
“We are against the nationwide mega-franchise scope of the bill. The process it [House Bill 8179] underwent was not transparent and has no due process. And we caught him [Leandro Leviste, the owner of the start-up corporation] lying about the prices it charges to its consumers”, said Cullantes. De Jesus questions Cusi’s preference to private for-profit corporations over nonstock and nonprofit electric cooperatives.
“If he [Sec. Cusi] really thinks the private for-profit corporations can do what we have done, we are challenging you to energize the unserved and underserved areas in ARMM. If they are after total electrification, then, by all means, enter those areas.”
On the Revocation of ECs Franchises
The group further expressed disappointment over Cusi’s mishandling of issues with ECs, which include the revocation of franchise of some ECs, failure to recognize the contributions of ECs in rural electrification, among others.
In a written statement sent to PHILRECA Secretariat, GM Sergio Dagooc, President of NAGMEC said: “There are realities beyond the control of ECs why there are still areas that remain unelectrified.… However, nobody can conclude that because of the remaining last mile of unelectrified areas, this is already a failure of the EC’s mandate just to justify the position, sanctions and penalties, and worst, the cancellation of the franchise.
“ Pres. De Jesus said it is his “moral imperative as the president of the umbrella organization of all electric cooperatives not to allow any one of the members to be given away. We are united, and we will stand our ground.” PHILRECA vowed to continue with more aggressive campaign for Cusi’s resignation with electric cooperatives all around the country.
Atty. Colingan ended the dialogue-turned-press conference: “We see the DOE, the Energy Secretary as our father. Kung sakali mang mayroong underperforming na electric cooperative, ipapamigay mo na lang ba siya? Hindi ba ang tamang paraan ay tulungan mo sila upang umayos? Kung ang sagot niya ay ipamigay na lang kami, e hindi tama yun. Lalaban kami hindi lang para sa amin, kung hindi para sa member-consumer-owners. Hindi natatapos dito ang laban!”