MANILA, Philippines - Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla proposed the conversion of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) into a governing body with powers to review and actually intervene in the management and financial affairs of electric cooperatives.
Petilla raised the suggestion after the Abra Electric Cooperative (ABRECO) faces another disconnection by February 7 or 8 if it is not able to pay P16 million in overdue payment to its supplier and National Grid Corp.
Another P10 million is needed a few days from Feb. 7 and yet another P16 million in overdue amount will have to be raised by ABRECO. On top of this monthly obligations, ABRECO also owes PSALM P355 million in previous loans.
According to Petilla, even the cooperative's supplier Aboitiz Power is now giving up due to defaults in payment.
Petilla still hopes the coop gets a weekly contract so as not to plunge Abra in darkness. But he said if the people of Abra will allow the DOE, he would want a new management team to take over ABRECO.
ABRECO is not under the NEA but the CDA or the Cooperative Development Authority.
Aside from ABRECO, other coops with huge debts include Lanao del Sur electric coop - P4.6 billion, Albay Electric Coop- P4 billion and Olongapo Electric Coop - P4 billion. Others have debts running to hundreds of millions of pesos.
But despite the threat of being cut from the power grid if the debts are not settled soon, Petilla assured consumers that he will see to it that there will be power in all these areas this coming elections.
Petilla who used to be governor of Leyte understands the importance of having electricity since the PCOS machines have limited battery life.
According to Petilla, electricity is also crucial especially in hotspot areas as this may cause tension among warring political clans.