Key managerial positions in the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) are set to be filled up by appointees of the national government, in what some insiders view as a prelude to a government takeover of the cooperative as President Rodrigo Duterte recently vowed to do.
PALECO officials told Palawan News they were informed that new appointees for Acting General Manager (AGM) and Project Supervisor (PS) have been designated by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
In a radio interview, NEA administrator Engr. Emmanuel Juaneza said that Atty. May Flor Abuedo and Eric Villar will be taking over as Project Supervisor and Acting General Manager respectively.
PALECO chair Jeffrey Tan-Endriga, in an interview with Palawan News, expressed concern over the new appointments, saying it will delay the implementation of major projects that are in the pipeline.
“It will hamper the process that we started from the time that the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) approved the CaPex (capital expenditure program) in restructuring our staffing pattern. Another cause of delay na naman ito,” he said.
Criticizing the move of NEA, Endriga insisted that the national government’s impositions on PALECO are without legal basis.
He noted that they have already began the regular selection process for the position of General Manager.
“What happened to the application of the GM? Are we sure that they [a] have timeline on this? When? They stated that by January they will endorse the possible candidate for GM so BOD (board of director) can appoint. We hope they can do that,” he said.
The CaPex of PALECO was approved by the ERC in December 2018. ERC approved only P1.082 billion of the power firm’s proposed P1.161 billion for its 2017 to 2021 CapEx.
The new NEA appointees will replace Bienvenida Tongol, who acted as AGM in the month of May, replacing officer-in-charge Engr. Ferdinand Pontillas of PALECO’s corporate planning department.
Endriga added that they had not even received any official memorandum recalling Tongol.
“I don’t know, but as far as the record will show, we didn’t receive any official memo whatsoever,” he said.
Endriga stressed that all NEA’s actions are baseless and have no legal basis starting their designation from the time of Engr. Nelson Lalas in 2019, who acted both as Project Supervisor and Assistant General Manager.
“Nothing, all actions by NEA are baseless. This action applies for an ailing coop only and we are not ailing,” he said.
He again criticized the pronouncement of President Duterte on a government takeover of PALECO, claiming he was “misled.”
“Our president was misled by those people who have hidden agenda. How can we sustain our program if they keep on replacing our AGM? There’s no sustainability. Bagong tao, bagong pakisama. Iba ang sinabi sa ginawa ng Department of Energy (DOE) at NEA, they’re just using the words of our president to pursue their interest,” Endriga said.