More power to Negros

By Herbert Vego

OCTOGENARIAN Casiano “Cas” Mayor, who used to be my fellow reporter at Reuters news agency, wrote to express his excitement over the looming entry of the Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) to replace the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) as distribution utility in Bacolod City and suburbs. He is the owner of a carinderia, Marilyn’s Kitchen on Gatuslao Ext. cor. 13th St., he needs a stable power supply.

Cas has been worrying over the moribund state of Ceneco, which is already mired in ₱613 million debts.  Its impending bankruptcy could trigger a permanent power blackout.

Ceneco has also lagged behind in upgrading its facilities and in stopping power pilferage. Fortunately, its joint agreement with Primelectric, already approved by the majority of power consumers in a plebiscite, has given birth to NEPC.

The Negrenses’ trust in the new NEPC is not without basis. It is an affiliate of MORE Electric and Power Corp (MORE Power), which has successfully taken over a failing predecessor in Iloilo City since 2020. It would also be headed by MORE Power’s president/CEO, Roel Z. Castro.

The chairman of both MORE Power and NEPC is world-class industrialist Enrique K. Razon, who holds the reputation of being the third richest Filipino.

The House of Representatives has already passed the bill (HB 9805) granting NEPC a 25-year franchise. It is now in in the Senate for concurrence.

If Castro is optimistic in overturning the misfortune of Ceneco, it’s because he has found out the causes of its losses.

As correctly reported in this paper by Dolly Yasa the other day, Castro and his subordinates have delved into the severity of the cooperative’s moribundity. To sum it up, they have already inspected 220,000 electric meters in its franchise area, of which 178,000 have been reviewed, revealing 5,000 illegal connections and 80,000 without seals.

The above figures tacitly reveal the enormity of losses resulting from stolen electricity through “jumpers” and tampered electric meters. Unless corrected, the new player would be as helpless in reversing the old player’s predicament.

It is hard to believe that pilferage could be so enormous without the active participation of technical personnel who are supposed to be constantly monitoring the power lines.  We know that some of them are in cahoots with customers who bribe them to tinker their lines in order to minimize or eliminate their bills.

Power pilferage not only harms the utility but also the honest customers who share the burden of paying for the system’s loss.

Wise move, we say of Mr. Castro’s decision to thoroughly screen NEPC applicants – including old Ceneco employees – before admitting them for employment. As of now, around 250 Ceneco employees have applied.

I have no doubt that, barring unsightly track records, they would be prioritized. You see, when MORE Power took over Panay Electric Co. (PECO) in 2020, more than 50 of the latter’s terminated employers were rehired due to good behavior and efficiency at work.



AS in the days of Pres. Duterte, today’s congressmen merely “follow the leader” while trying to justify their supposed individual judgments. This time, is Speaker Martin Romualdez the pied piper?

This is what we gleaned from the House approval, voting 288-8, of the proposed economic Charter change (RBH7), aimed at introducing amendments to junk the restrictive provisions disallowing foreigners from owning 100-percent land ownership and  business investments.

This corner begs the Senate to oppose the resolution because, as in the previous unsuccessful attempts, this “cha-cha” could be a ruse to perpetuate greedy politicians in power.

Even on “purely economic amendments,” it would favor foreigners and emasculate Filipino investors.

And yet, we are not even aware of foreigners aching to dump their millions of dollars in our country.

If they were interested, why have they not responded to the extensive foreign trips of Pres. Marcos aimed at inviting them to invest here?

On the contrary, huge foreign investments have escaped for various reasons.  Take the case of Levi’s, a world-famous garment brand that used to operate a big factory in Makati. It packed up due to unabated entry of fake imitations from China.

And woe unto the local garment makers who had no choice but also to close shop.

Iyan ang problema na dapat tutukan ng mambubutas – este mambabatas.

OMG, tigilan n’yo nga kami!