Monday, October 12, 2015

Editorial by Ernesto T. Solidum


On December 12, 2015 some 110, 000 member subscribers of Akelco will cast a referendum vote on either 3 options namely: NEA, CDA or SEC. this activity is supposedly to be held every 10 years as embodied under NEA Memo No. 2014-036 and the EPIRA Law of 2011 (RA 9136) to allow power consumers to decide which one of the above options is more advantageous to them as to efficient delivery of services and cheaper electricity.

In a presscon held on Monday, September 28 at Engr. Job Y. Besana Hall, Akelco in Lezo, Atty. Ariel B. Gepty BoD Vice Pres. frankly admitted that Akelco management is for continuance of existing status under the National Electrification Administration. He reasoned that Sitio Electrification program and early recovery after super typhoon Yolanda have been possible because of NEA’s generous subsidy. Based on Statement of Cash Flows ending December 31, 2014 the total subsidy of NEA to Akelco was P130, 113, 331. As a non-stock, non-profit corporation it provides the best option as to being service-oriented at reasonable cost, underscored the BoD Vice Pres.

Ms. Cheng M. Ocampo, OIC-IDD Manager said that a province-wide info dissemination campaign will be launched October 7 to December 4, 2015 in all that 10 Districts  covered by Akelco prior to this referendum date. Tentative venues and dates of meeting are: Job Y. Besana Hall, Akelco Lezo for District VI (Lezo and Malinao) October 7, DLRC Kalibo for District V (Kalibo and Numancia) October 14, New Washington Covered Court for District VII (New Washington and Batan) October 21, Tangalan Elem. School for District IV (Makato and Tangalan) October 28, Ibajay Covered Court for District III (Ibajay and Nabas) November 4, Conference Hall, Pandan Central School for District II (Pandan and Libertad, Antique) November 11, Mayor Teodoro F. Calizo Sr. Memorial Civic Center, Pobl. Balete for District VIII (Altavas and Balete) November 18, Malay Covered Court for District I (Malay and Buruanga) November 25, Libacao Cultural Center for District IX (Banga, Libacao and Madalag) December 2 and Manoc-Manoc Covered Court for District X (Boracay Island) December 4.

Voting Center/Venues are to be held in: Altavas Sub-Office for District VIII, Banga Sub-Office (District IX), Kalibo Sub-Office (District V and VII), Lezo Sub-Office (District VI ad IV), Ibajay Sub-Office (District III), Pandan Sub-Office (District II), Caticlan Sub-Office (District I) and Boracay Sub-Office (Boracay Island). Overall canvassing of votes will be held at ABL Sports Complex, Kalibo at 3:00 PM.

Ms. Ocampo clarified that based on the By-Laws of the Cooperative, those qualified to vote are approved member consumers 90 days prior to referendum date or September 12, 2015. Juridical persons or heads of Corporation/Agencies when designating their representative must present an authorization letter in order to vote.

What is obviously lacking in the discussion is the deafening absence of representatives from Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Were they invited or entirely left out? bogs the mind of media men who by coincidence are also Akelco member subscribers.

In order to promote fair, just and balanced info dissemination the Akelco BoD must have a neutral stand in the presentation of advantages and disadvantages of each option. They must see to it that an objective viewpoint be given the public during the scheduled District meetings for rational choice of alternative.

Since April 25, 1972 or 43 years ago Akelco has been cuddled and protected by NEA in terms of financial and technical assistance. Its membership have since grown by leaps and bounds and yet its services are sinking in a quagmire of rotating brownouts and power interruption. Transparency and accountability remain questionable such as present loss of Consumer Meter Deposits (P15.1 million) and unpaid franchise tax with Provincial Treasure (P4.6 million). In a sense, we are overly dependent on NEA’s patronage unmindful of her total domination of our will to be free and assertive of our rights.

Practically, if Akelco management is service-oriented, all the above problems could have been solved or licked a long time ago. Like a grown up kid he refuses to leave his parents’ fold to search for greener pastures. Here, a window of opportunity is open to member consumers to adopt a profit-oriented business option in SEC but whose service is undoubtedly marked by efficiency, sensitivity, transparency, accountability, affordability and sustainability. Everyone can look up to the Meralco model with lower power generation cost for residential at P4.81/kwh while Akelco consumers are charged a whooping P5.94. Comparatively based on Kuryenty.Org. ph Ileco charges P5.74/kwh, Capelco-P5.19/kwh and Antelco-P5.56/kwh. Ironically these Cooperatives in Panay Island jointly subscribe to Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) yet post different rates.

Herein lies the clash of ideas and principles governing each peculiar business type and the search for a better solution to an age-old problem. May the best option wins./MP

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