The City Council is backing a national government plan to take over the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), taking the stance in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement issued last week, even as the national association of electric cooperatives vowed to block the move.
The Council passed a resolution Monday, saying that the expropriation of PALECO is a “genuine necessity” to improve power services in the city and Palawan.
“Expropriation is one of the tripods of great powers that inherent (sic) in the Philippine Constitution for the state to exercise its sovereign authority in the name of public interest,” the resolution stated.
“The frequent power outage has caused many foreign investors to shy away from investing in the province and in Puerto Princesa. Various literature has pointed out that frequent power outages are harmful to [the] local economy since it directly impacts [the] cover loss of local manufacturing and production, the interruption of telecommunication, and damage to equipment,” the resolution added.
Duterte broadly stated last week that the government will acquire the cooperative on its own terms.
“Either you come to agree with us or I will order an expropriation,” Duterte said during his speech Monday.
The Council resolution did not elaborate on how it wants to see the expropriation done, but Councilors allayed fears of any negative backlash.
“The national government’s takeover is temporary. We don’t know for how long. But if it is for the good intention of Palawenos, then there will be no problem,” Councilor Nesario Awat said.
“Hindi natin alam kung ano ang pwedeng mangyari, pero tatlong taon na pinagbigyan ang PALECO na i-improve mga serbisyo nila, at nakakalungkot na hindi nangyari ‘yon,” Councilor Henry Gadiano added.
“Ilang beses nating tinawagan ang PALECO dito sa ating konseho. Hindi nagkakaroon ng pagkakataon na tugunan ang mga isyu dahil hindi sila pumupunta rito, sa Zoom lang, at hindi pa nga nagkakaunawaan dahil putol-putol ang kanilang signal,” Councilor Elgin Damasco, who sponsored the resolution, said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Federation of Electric Cooperatives (PHILFECO) claimed there are “vested interests” behind the move to takeover PALECO.
In a statement, PHILFECO claimed that “influential private business and large corporate entrepreneurs are behind this ill-advised ploys to discredit PALECO and our electric cooperatives and to fabricate lies and wrongful reasons that will justify their entry and eventual take-over of electric cooperative franchises.”
“We will resist all efforts of private and corporate interests to demean our electric cooperatives and belittle their achievements as they pursue their selfish motives to establish a foothold and gain those lucrative profits in the electric power distribution utility business,” it added.
PALECO had also issued a text message to its member-consumers in a bid to muster support.
The text blast message stated:
“Kaming mga kamay-ari at konsumidores ng Palawan Electric Cooperative ay nagpapahayag ng pagtutol sa pagsasa-pribado o pag-‘take-over’ sa PALECO, pangunahing kadahilan na:
Ang PALECO ay pag-aari natin, at bilang kamay-ari at konsumidores ay matatamasa natin ang pagkakataong makatanggap ng:
- Pailaw sa mababang halaga ng kuryente
- PALECO CSR Program
- SEP at BLEP mula sa NEA at DOE
- Pantawid Liwanag Program at libreng kuryente sa mga lifeliner consumers.”
PALECO chairman Jeffrey Tan-Endriga also stated that they have already submitted their appeal to Malacanang opposing the takeover.
“Yes. Management through NEA (National Electrification Administration) AGM [Bienvenida Tongol] will facilitate [the appeal],” Endriga said.