Wednesday, January 20, 2010
When Powers Meet
The two political powers in the province once again had an indirect verbal encounter in the recently-concluded Mainland Occidental Mindoro Power Summit held here in San Jose last Friday, January 16, 2010. As expected, it zeroed- in on the exclusive Energy Conversion Agreement (ECA) between Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative or OMECO and the Island Power Corporation or IPC which was penned in the early 90s. For further details on the preparatory phase of the summit, you may click here for my previous write-up in the Mindoro Post.
For me, as an objective on-looker and participant (or at least I am trying to be one!) on our province’s relevant socio-political events, I was able to hear the views of the IPC on said ECA directly from the horse’s mouth. After the somewhat very technical presentation of OMECO OIC general manager Engr. Alfred A. Dantis and the National Power Corporation-Small Power Utilities Group or NPC-SPUG, composed of Engr. Rogelio So and Engr. Melburgo S. Chiu, its vice-president,- designated event moderator, Atty. Rey Tamayo of the De Chavez, Sagayo, Lerios-Amboy Law Offices, gave the floor to former congressman, former governor and now Brgy. Bubog chairman Jose T. Villarosa, in his capacity as the present chairman of the IPC. Tamayo is one of the legal counsels of OMECO coming from said law firm.
The NPC-SPUG is mandated by law to undertake the electrification of areas not connected to the main transmission grid, also referred to as Missionary Areas. IPC is the sole Independent Power Producer (IPP) who operated in the province since 1992 but ceased to operate more than five years ago. There is an existing legal contest between IPC and OMECO pending at the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) on the controversial ECA. Unluckily, no single representative from ERB came to clarify things.
Villarosa exhaustively discussed how IPC came into the picture saying it was the solution to the energy crisis being experienced by the province and the whole country then. According to Villarosa, the late OMECO GM Col. Zoilo Perez (ret) along with other leaders coming from different sectors solicited his assistance as our congressman to address said crisis. In his presentation, the former solon cited specific provision on the agreement, its present status as far as the IPC is concerned which I think I am not in the liberty to elaborate for as I have previously stated, the case is still pending at ERC as a quasi-judicial body. I am afraid that I might touch some merits of the case. So, I opted not to. By the way, Villarosa said that one of the two power generators of IPC is still running and has the capacity to generate as long as OMECO will provide them fuel, contrary to the allegation that the IPC generators are now just pieces of scrap.
Toward the end of his talk, Villarosa also emphasized that IPC has an uncollectible amount of more or less P 168 million to OMECO. He even added that there is a possibility that IPC would take over OMECO if the amount will not be settled but Tamayo hold firm to his decision that corresponding legal action from OMECO is expected if the take-over will be pursued. Dantis immediately responded that the cooperative does not acknowledge such loan but he did not elaborate why. Villarosa added that the IPC have already transacting with Cigawatt Power Corporation, reportedly a Filipino-American consortium with net asset of P 1.5 billion and intends to operate a 20 megawatt power plant. He assured that the power it will generate would be sufficient for the province and for him, it’s the most possible solution to the current crisis. Villarosa even said that there is a possibility that they would take over OMECO and the power generation and distribution in the province. But Mayor Romulo M. Festin, Villarosa’s closest rival for this town’s mayoralty post, stood up and said that the coming up of a new supplier would not be the issue of the day until ERB settled the legal question. For Festin, OMECO and IPC should first settle the Motion for Reconsideration on the revocation of the ECA between the two entities before the perceived coming of another IPP.
Governor Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato was among the participants who took part in the open forum. Sato initially said that he is not sharing her view as a governor but as a lawyer and most of all, as member-consumer. Sato proposed to Tamayo some legal steps to undertake and the latter duly noted the suggestions from her. The governor further suggests that a manifesto should be finalized as major output of the summit. She called for the people to rally behind OMECO, NEA and NPC and if needed, pressure the ERC for speedy trial and finality of the case. She said that proper processes should be made to decide on which interested IPP to come and assure that review components are embodied in the contracts and learn from the past.
This are just the highlights that I want to share in the meantime. Other people who were there at the summit are most welcome to share their insights on the comment section of this post. I really realized a lot of things from this summit. As former TESDA director and ECAP (Electric Cooperative Advocacy of the Philippines) national president Mr. Edicio dela Torre have noticed, there is a dire need to organize local ECAP not only in Occidental but for the whole Mindoro island so the holding of an island-wide summit is necessary. Most especially with the existence of EPIRA or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, especially after 2010 elections, there is a need to review national government’s policy on power and energy. But hopefully, let us pray that there will be reliable power supply this coming elections.
I realized too that in order for me to lord over in this part of the island, I’ll establish and wield power camouflaged as a service-oriented political and economic effort but in fact sustain my private corporation.
And my constituents will just sigh and say : “Ay, pes(t)e!” …
(Photo from the Save OMECO File. Candle ceremony in one of the rallies last year)