SORSOGON City, Feb. 11, 2014—The church here will oppose attempt to put Sorsogon Electric Cooperative II (Soreco II) in the hands of a private power firm in case one will try to deprive member-consumers of their ownership and control, Sorsogon Diocese Media Relation Officer Rev. Fr. Bong Imperial said in a recent interview.
People shall not be deprived of ownership and control of a property by which they illuminate their homes and propel their local industries, he said. To squander such property is to make the people poorer.
Allowing the cooperative to go into the full control of a private power company is not only a big loss on the part of the people, said Fr. Imperial. It will also cause loss of jobs for people presently employed by the cooperative.
If Soreco II’s current management will fail to turn around the situation, the cooperative will likely follow the course taken by Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco), he said. Aleco was taken over by San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), a private power company, last year for its continuous failure to assume its financial liabilities.
In the case of Aleco, the power firm will not assume the cooperative’s accountabilities, Fr. Imperial said. The consumers will do. And the company will not absorb the cooperative’s employees.
SMEC is eyeing to control the entire power distribution in Bicol Region, under Aquino’s Private Partnership Program (PPP) power policy, by taking over ailing electric cooperatives, he said.
If Soreco II will fall into private hands, electricity rates may get more expensive, and the private power firm cannot guarantee that power interruptions will finally be addressed, the priest said.
The cooperative is still suffering from the consequences of its mishandling by the individuals who formerly ran and managed it, he said.
The mismanagement has generated an internal conflict between the previous administrators and the ranks, according to the priest. The cooperative was eventually found entrenched in deep financial liability and charging its member-consumers high electricity rates.
Electricity is essential to the communities in the province, the priest said, adding that the cooperative requires competent management to hold it from possible tailspin to irreparable debt.
As of present, a hike from P5 to P15 in Soreco II power rate is being proposed by the current management.
But Fr. Imperial said the proposed increase is overpriced as cited by one Cooperative employee. Only a P4 electricity rate hike is required to meet the price adjustments for power generation and transmission.
The priest said the local church will definitely do all it can to keep Soreco II in the hands of member-consumers. (Oliver Samson)
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