The Provincial Board has summoned the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to shed light on the status of the renewal of the cooperative’s franchise as energy distributor in the province.

In his privilege speech on Tuesday, 3rd District Board Member Rafael V. Ortega, Jr. said that the PALECO franchise will end on January 24, 2024. He then moved to invite the chairman of the board of directors and a representative from NEA to the question hour of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

He added that he is also studying the possibility of requesting the three Congressional Representatives of the province to conduct an inquiry on the impending expiration of the PALECO franchise.

“[We] request our three congressional representatives in the House of Representatives urgently to conduct a congressional inquiry relative to this concern, considering possible adverse effects on the consumer members, most especially on the economy of the province if Paleco’s franchise is not renewed,” Ortega said.

“[But first, i-invite muna natin sila. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, dahil mahirap namang sabihin natin na hindi sila gumagalaw may ginawa na sila na hindi tayo informed,” he added.

Ortega also told the media in an interview that he found out about the status of PALECO’s franchise during one of his meetings with people from Aborlan to get their opinions.

“Isa sa napuntahan ko last week ay mga members ng Paleco at nagtatanong kung ano na nga ba ang status. Tinatanong nila kung naayos na nga ba ang ang franchise dahil sa kanilang pagkakaalam daw ay limang taon nga ang proseso ng pagre-renew,” he told reporters.

“Kaya minarapat kong ipatawag dito yung PALECO para sa kanila mismo natin marinig dahil baka ginagawa naman nila at hindi lang tayo ini-inform. So dito, pwede nating malaman kung ano nga ba ang hakbang na legal na ginagawa nila para ma-update ang prangkisa ng paleco,” he said.

ABC President and ex-officio Board Member Ferdinand P. Zaballa also expressed disappointment over the PALECO management, who had already been summoned but did not provide direct answers.

“Ilang beses na pinatawag dito ang PALECO during the 43rd Sanggunian, hindi ko na mabilang. The same issue was raised, but there was never an answer,” Zaballa said.

“Baka ang pinapatawag natin ay hindi ‘yon ang makakasagot, ipatawag natin kung sino ang dapat then specific na tanong lang tungkol sa franchise dahil ‘yon ang concern natin,” he added.

He also noted that the renewal of franchises would be a long process.

“Parang hindi na mare-renew ang franchise because it’s too close. To be granted a franchise, you have to undergo several documentations, and papers to be submitted, I think that you have at least two or three years,” Zaballa said.

In the meantime, Board Member Juan Antonio E. Alvarez suggested that they directly inquire before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises if PALECO has a pending franchise renewal application.

He also agreed to involve the NEA to put pressure on PALECO.

“Maybe we can inquire kung mayroon nang pending application sa Congress, and at the same time, we send letter to NEA. In the event na ganon ulit ang gawin nila na hindi tayo pakinggan, at least mayroon na tayong parallel move para hindi tayo maiwan sa ere. It will also add more pressure to PALECO to answer our call,” Alvarez said.

Meanwhile, PALECO board Chair Jeffrey Tan-Endriga said in a text message that they “are willing to be invited by the provincial board anytime so we can provide facts and seek support from them as well as the city council.” (with reports from Gerald Ticke and Rachel Ganancial)

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.