FICELCO’s acts of betrayal
posted 7-Apr-2016  ·  
4,251 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

FICELCO consumers need not be surprised at all and get disillusioned by recent reports of alleged collusion between the cooperative’s board of directors and a power firm in ramming through a patently prejudicial clause amending their existing Electric Supply Agreement (ESA). Actually, the “beso-beso” has been going on for some time. Inside the enclave of a deluxe casino-hotel in Manila, some FICELCO people, and even Catanduanes officials, have been spotted on many occasions getting dazed by once-in-a lifetime free “wining and dining” treats, each occasion routinely made more sumptuous by free casino chips. The romping continues to as far a luxurious resort in Albay whose clientele are foreigners, celebrities and the not-so-ordinary tourists. A tipster even adds that some FICELCO people and local officials have previously been treated to all-expense-paid junkets to Asian cities. Certainly, if these are the kinds of enticements being doled out or dangled, how can a FICELCO director or an interested LGU official turn down the corresponding entreaty by the sponsor? Only after the hangover has subsided perhaps that the sobered-up Catandungeño beneficiary will realize that what he had enjoyed briefly was a betrayal of FICELCO consumers. A betrayal, too, of the trust of the people in our brownout-plagued island.

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What breed of FICELCO directors do we have now? The law is clear that using  generator sets in lieu of renewable  energy (hydro power in our case) is disallowed and even if extreme circumstances so warrant such, genset power can only be allowed as augmentation provided no extra costs are passed on to power users. And then, there is this strict proviso that the acquisition of support gensets, whether gas or diesel fired, ought to be done via the so-called competitive selection process (CSP), or simply put, through bidding. This we do not expect to happen if the FICELCO board continues to keep on with the silent collusion with the power producer who is dictating the terms of reference of the bidding. Assuming the so-called Swiss challenge is opted to consider or appreciate some unsolicited offers from other power providers, which third party would be in the right mind to make an offer where the bidding terms were already tailored to suit a favored group? Nobody. And so the charade goes on. By subtly inserting an adverse amendment to the original ESA and have it approved quickly by our laid-back government regulators, the collaborators were deemed to have completed a grand conspiracy against the people of Catanduanes. All these maneuverings are underlined by one objective -- profit. While the construction of the hydro plants had already brought in huge loans, the power providers continue to earn more from unsupplied electricity which are paid in full. The extra gensets follow next as virtual cash enerators, with the consumers paying more for the outsourced yet questioned electricity supply. If we were to ask in jest an Agusan native  to describe the situation Catanduanes power consumers are now in, he would readily say, “pildi” (on the loss side).

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I am all praises for Sammy Laynes, former FICELCO general manager, for having steadfastly opposed all the schemes to put the cooperative under the whims of a cunning power provider. Sammy stood in the way of a powerful business conglomerate in Bicol Region controlled by a Bicolano businessman said to be most pampered by most Bicolano leaders, officials and politicians.

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Incidentally, the FICELCO brownouts were most unbearable during the past weeks. Households were agitated, yet taking the unannounced power outages in stride because they are used to it. But the Holy Week vacationists to the island were not happy. They returned home full of pity for Catandungeños.  With the behavior now of the new FICELCO board, that is to rely only on the patch-up solutions offered by SUWECO, one can hardly see any long-term or lasting solution to the island’s  power woes, something that reverts me to the aggressive idea of former Gov. Hector Sanchez  on how to permanently solve the problem. Hector’s grand idea to interconnect Catanduanes’s power supply to the Luzon power grid came out not as a mere campaign line for next month’s election where he is seeking the province’s lone congressional post. Electric power and not poverty is the chief problem in the same vein that it will be our springboard toward 21st century development and progress. When the former governor assured that the project is doable, he was talking from his heart, his mind and experience: he is a professional electrical engineer and a builder of power plants. So whether he wins or loses the May 9 polls, it will be in the interest of all Catandungeños to support and encourage hard the power interconnection project. Can we hear anything from our good-time seeking FICELCO officers?

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ROSULO welcomes comments via: rosmanlangit@yahoo.com 
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