A vital question that needs to be answered
posted 21-Aug-2018  ·  
1,200 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

During last Monday’s session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, majority of the members were apparently of the belief that the new diesel generators of Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. (SUWECO) could be operated immediately to ease the power situation of the past months.

This belief was most likely based on the assertion of SUWECO officials that the 2nd Amendment, which was approved by the FICELCO board in 2014, was already okayed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) when the latter issued a provisional authority for the diesel gensets’ rate under the 1st Amendment.

It is these amendments that are at the heart of the situation that FICELCO and its 55,000 member-consumer-owners find themselves in: with power supply contracts in excess of the current demand but with two private power providers unable to deliver their respective contracted energy.

The Financial and Management Audit Report conducted by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) on the cooperative’s operation from January 2013 to September 2016, most parts of which have seen publication in this paper months ago. Is instructive as far as its evaluation of the controversial amendments is concerned:

“It was observed that the 1st amendment was signed by the Board without any study. There was no explanation or justification observed regarding the failure of SUWECO to implement what is in the original ESA for the operational year of the 2 remaining MHPP site.”

“The Board immediately signed the amendment without conducting study of the coop annual kwh requirements and the provision of the 1st amended ESA.”

“The composition of the new SBAC included 2 Board of Directors and one of them was appointed as Chairman; and the Vice-chairman of the SBAC was the OIC-GM. This is a violation of the Procurement Guidelines and Simplified Bidding Procedures for EC of RA 10531 which provides that the BAC will be composed of employees, the chairman of which is occupying departmental level position.”

“Review of the documents showed irregularities with regard to the meeting conducted on March 22, 2016. It seems the minutes of the meeting was prepared to show that meeting was conducted although no such meeting occurred.”

Of particular interest to the SP members who believe SUWECO’s claim that both amendments have been approved by ERC is the following NEA audit finding:

“Although there were two amendments to the ESA, only the 1st amendment was filed with ERC on March 21, 2015 praying for the implementation of the 1st amendment and directing NPC-SPUG to pay for the difference between the approved rate and the amount billed to FICELCO.”

Until now, the board and management which approved the controversial amendments have not explained why they should not be held accountable for the irregularities that significantly contributed to the power crisis in the last few months.

Now that it has been furnished a copy of the NEA audit report, would the honorable members of the provincial board now demand a full probe or at the very least pass a resolution requesting NEA to file charges against the erring former and current officials of FICELCO who were involved in the approval of the amendments?

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