The Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) joined Thursday the nationwide simultaneous “Black Valentine Protest” to continue opposing the earlier recommendation of the Department of Energy (DOE) to cancel the franchises of 17 electric cooperatives (ECs) in the country.
The black protest on Valentine’s Day was held despite the DOE’s withdrawal of its recommendation in January from the House of Representatives through Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Employees of the PALECO all wore black as they attended their flag ceremony and hoisted a black cloth alongside the Philippine flag.
PALECO board chairman Jeffrey Tan-Endriga said Thursday that the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA)-led protest aims to show “pagkakaisa” or unity against the DOE that abandoned them instead of helping resolve their issues.
“Nagpapakita lang ito ng pagkakaisa naming lahat na mga electric cooperatives sa ginagawa ng DOE. Hindi kasi tama ‘yong ganoong aksyon ng DOE. Para niya kaming mga anak na pinabayaan niya noong nagkasakit kami,” he said.
Endriga said the DOE’s withdrawal of its recommendation is not an assurance that it will not do it again without consultation with them.
He added that right now, they still feel overawed and intimidated by the move that never followed the due process in dealing with ECs that have issues but are never ailing.
“Kung baga na-rape ka okay lang ba sayo? Hindi ka ba aalma? Kapag ginawa niyo ang danyos ay danyos na iyon. Ganoon na lang ba ‘yon? Gagawin at gagawin niya ulit ito. Kaya sumali ang PALECO sa Philreco protest to show them nagkakaisa ang electric cooperatives sa buong bansa. Para magdahan-dahan din naman sila,” he said.
PALECO spokesperson Claire Guludah said earlier that their protest will continue an unspecified period of time.
“We will continue it every Friday, we’re going to wear black,” she said.
In Advisory-2019-032, the Black Valentine Protest is aimed at highlighting the opposition of the ECs against the discriminatory treatment of the DOE towards the 17 power cooperatives.
It also aims to raise the awareness of the member-consumer-owner (MCO) regarding the action of Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi against the electric cooperatives.
“To increase the awareness of the MCOs and the public about the hostile action of Sec. Cusi against the electric coops by giving more favor and courtesy to the private businemen who are interested over the operations of ECs,” the advisory said.
It will also be a venue for PALECO to express its opposition to House Bill 8829 or the plan to grant a franchise to MORE Reedbank Corporation to establish, operate and maintain electric distribution in Palawan.
The PHILRECA is also protesting the approval of House Bill 8179 or the proposed measure that will give a 25-year franchise to Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) Corporation.