By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) general manager Arnel Lapore said it is up to consumers to decide on the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) it signed with Primelectric Holdings Inc. last Saturday.
The JVA was signed by Ceneco board president Jojit Yap and Roel Castro, president and CEO of More Power Corp., for its affiliate Primelectric.
Witnessing the signing were Lapore, Abang Lingkod partylist Rep. Stephen Paduano, Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and barangay captains.
Lapore said they will disseminate the contents of the JVA to the consumers in preparation for the plebiscite on June 24-25, 2023 and July 1-2, 2023.
“The consumers can vote yes if they favor the JVA and no if they don’t,” he added.
Ceneco has a total of 210,000 member-consumers in Bacolod City, Silay City, Talisay City, Bago City, Murcia, and Don Salvador Benedicto town.
What is needed is 50 percent plus one for the JVA to be approved.
Lapore said the plebiscite will be undertaken at the expense of proponent Primelectric Holdings Inc.
“Not a single centavo will be spent by Ceneco,” he stressed.
The signing of the JVA was held after Castro presented the undertaking to the barangay captains in Bacolod City.
In the press conference that followed, Lapore said Ceneco has reached a point where it can no longer sustain its losses.
“Nag lab-ot na sa ponto nga indi na malagas sang Ceneco ang kapirdihan ya sa system loss ini ang system loss nga ini ang naga kaon sang income sang Ceneco,” Lapore said.
Ceneco still has a P800-million loan with the National Electrification Administration, he confirmed.
The loan is one reason Ceneco’s request for capital expenditure from the Energy Regulatory Commission has not been approved.
Describing Ceneco as a “bleeding” electric distribution facility, Lapore said he thinks the JVA will give “fresh life” to Ceneco, noting the electric cooperative is losing P15 to 20 million a month due to the subsidy to the systems loss.
Paduano said, “This is not about Ceneco, this is not about More Power, this is about the consumers who have been because of the power outages, the inefficient service, and high power rate.”
He added that if Ceneco will renew its franchise he will oppose it adding “indi ko pwede tonlon na.”
Paduano also said that he would lead the campaign for the yes vote for the JVA in the barangays to ensure a majority vote.
“Buligan ta ni, pirmi lang ta ga reklamo kontra malain nga serbisyo sang Ceneco, ga plano na ko mabakal gamay nga generator, ara ka solod balay, then gulpi lang ma brown out,” he lamented.
“We have to face reality, ERC has not approved the Capex because Ceneco still has a pending loan of P800 million and how can it be paid when Ceneco is losing P20 million a month due to system loss,” he added.
Paduano said consumers need immediate solutions.
“You are against the JVA? What is your solution? I am also a consumer, we have to end our suffering through this JVA, it’s now or never,” he furthered.
Ferrer told the media that he has been pushing for the JVA for the benefit of the consumers while citing MORE Power’s track record in Iloilo City.
Meanwhile, Bayan Negros said in a press statement that it strongly denounces the management and board of CENECO for their sudden decision to sign a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with Primelectric Holdings Inc., completely disregarding the concerns of consumers.
The announcement of the signing last June 3, was only made public by mainstream media close to Friday midnight, leaving consumers completely blindsided.
Noli Rosales, spokesperson for Bayan Negros, said “Like thieves in the night, the board of directors and management of CENECO have blindsided and betrayed the consumers with their devious schemes. Shame on them for blatantly neglecting the interests of the people they are supposed to serve.”
“The fight is not yet over. The voice of the consumers is decisive. Through collective action, we can still hold the management and board of directors accountable for being traitorous to the interests of the consumers. Now is the time for the thousands of member-consumers to unite and fight back,” Rosales said.