Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has ordered an investigation over allegations of corruption against Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) officials that led to a 4-year power outage in several towns in the province, a fellow Cabinet member said on Saturday.
Mayors from at least 7 towns, who met with Cusi and other government officials, wanted to take the power distribution "out of the control of Lasureco, which owes the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines an estimated P10 billion in unpaid power bills," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on his Facebook page.
The plea from local chief executives came as they cited how the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III allegedly released P64 million before the May 2016 elections for the purchase of 20,000 units of electric power meters.
"Bakit bibili ng kontador, wala naman kaming kuryente? (What's the use of buying meters when we don't have power)" Picong Mayor Alinader Balindong told officials.
Both the money and the power meters could not be accounted for, Piñol said.
Besides the probe on Lasureco, Cusi has also ordered for the restoration of power in the municipalities of Malabang, Picong, Balabagan, Calanogas, Marogong, and Pagayawan by next week, Piñol said.
Piñol added that the protracted power outage was only brought up during a consultation with fishermen when the agriculture department's suggestion to build an ice plant in the area was thumbed down by locals.
"My suggestion was met with blank stares by people who then informed me that the ice plant could not be built because the town does not have electric power," Piñol said.