(File photo)

The Department of Energy (DOE) has created a task force to conduct a comprehensive institutional, financial, and technical audit of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO).

Called “Task Force Palawan Power”, it will be a special body that will be composed of representatives from the DOE, National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), National Electrification Administration (NEA), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and PALECO, said energy department director III Atty. Cesar dela Fuente.

Dela Fuente’s team is in Puerto Princesa City based on orders by the DOE to reassess 17 alleged underperforming electric cooperatives (ECs) whose franchises were initially recommended by Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi to be canceled by the legislative franchises committee of the House of Representatives (HOR).

“Ngayon ang DOE, in coordination sa NEA, tinututukan namin ang Palawan kasi pangalawa ito sa ORMECO (Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc.), para sa impormasyon niyo, hindi una ang Palawan na in-audit. Ang role ng DOE dito bilang supervising agency ng department ng mga kooperatiba is magkaroon ng general assessment, alamin yong problema katulad ng ginawa sa Oriental Mindoro,” Dela Fuente said.

The re-assessment aims to improve the system of distressed and underperforming ECs, he reiterated. Their activity will last until March 15 before results are submitted to Cusi.

Dela Fuente said they will also conduct an “exit conference” with local leaders in Palawan to discuss the results.

If problems are found, recommendations and possible solutions will be documented, including suggestions from participants to the conference.

“Ang malinaw dito ay ma-a-identify namin ang lahat ng problema ng inyong kooperatiba at makakapagbigay kami ng suhestiyon at recommendation kung paano resulbahin ito,” de la Fuente added.

He said some of the 17 ECs have already fixed their issues

“Ngayon, in between 2018 and latter part hanggang January of 2019, there are reports na among those 17 cooperatives, meron ng mga naayos na ýong sistema like yon doon sa Zamboanga and ORMECO  sa Oriental Mindoro pero ito ay mga report so kailangan i-validate, so ang ginawa ni DOE, i-validate na lang natin lahat,” he said.

Earlier, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA) staged a Black Friday rally to expressed opposition to the move of DoE.