PALECO vows to challenge NEA takeover bid

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The Board of Directors (BOD) of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) will contest the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) decision to assume control of the management and operations of the power cooperative by installing an acting general manager.

Jeffrey Tan-Endriga, chairman of the PALECO board, said Saturday to Palawan News that what they have is a “technical problem” that could have been resolved had the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved their capital expense (CAPEX) early.

He said the BOD will send a position paper to the NEA to explain that PALECO is not “ailing” and is, in fact, classified as “Double AA” power cooperative that means “it is second to the highest in terms of performance” in other aspects of management and operations.

“Ang PALECO is not ailing, what it has is a technical problem. Sa ibang aspeto ng management and operations, wala siyang problema. Technical lang ang problema natin at naayos sana kung na-approve ng maaga ang CAPEX natin (PALECO is not ailing, what it has is a technical problem. In all other aspects of management and operations, it does not have any problem. Our issue here is technical that we could have fixed if our CAPEX was approved early),” Endriga said.

Endriga also expressed hesitation over the authority that NEA-designated acting general manager (GM) Engr. Nelson Lalas was given regarding the approval and disapproval of their BOD resolutions and the signing and countersigning of checks.

He is asking the NEA under what basis this order was done because, in their setup, the GM sits as a member of the BOD with “only speaking and not voting rights.”

“Puwede nga namin palabasin ang GM sa BOD meeting kung gugustuhin namin, pero anong basis nitong order? Saan ka naman nakakita na wala siyang voting right, pero he has that authority to approve or disapprove our resolutions in the BOD or to recommend them to NEA? (We could even send out the GM in our BOD meeting if we want, but what is the basis of this order? Where have you seen a GM who has no voting right but has the authority to approve or disapprove our resolutions in the BOD or to recommend them to the NEA?) he asked.

Endriga added the BOD will also pass a resolution that will object to Lalas’ appointment as acting GM if they will not limit the amount that he can sign on PALECO checks.

He said they will limit him to sign checks for the payment of the salaries of PALECO staff and personnel or below three or five million pesos. But they will contest the same responsibility where checks for PALECO suppliers are concerned.

“He cannot sign checks for the payment of our obligations to our suppliers,” he said, explaining that the chairman of the BOD may do it which is allowed under Republic Act 9184 or the “Governor Procurement Act.”

Endriga reiterated that the BOD as a body has the legal position to refuse the takeover because PALECO is not poorly managed and operated.

“We will make a position paper. Definitely, we will write one to send to the NEA,” he said.

Endriga added that if member-consumer-owners will notice, the power interruptions have lessened recently because they have already been given the permit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to clear any vegetation that dangles on their distribution lines.

“Kung mapapansin mo walang power interruption na madalas ngayon kasi binigyan na tayo ng permit ni DENR na magsagawa ng mga pagpuputol ng sanga na dahilan ng problema. Ito lang naman ang kailangan natin, ‘yong tulungan tayo ng mga government agencies na mapadali ang mga solusyon (If you will notice, there are fewer power interruptions now because we have been given the permit by the DENR to do vegetation pruning that is often the cause. This is what we need, to be assisted by government agencies to make our solutions easier to make),” he said.

Meanwhile, PALECO director Maylene Ballares said in a separate interview that the BOD will convene on December 28 to evaluate the latest development in the province’s power problem.

She said there is a probability that the position paper and the resolution will come out on the same day. However, Ballares said they have not received a copy of NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong’s office order appointing Lalas.

“Kailangan muna namin makita ang kabuohan ng office order bago kami gumawa ng aksyon. Tignan na lang natin sa December 28 (We need to see the whole office order before we take any action. Let’s see on December 28),” she said.

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