By Artemio A. Dumlao
Bangued, Abra –Christmas has not stopped the “word war” between Abra governor Eustaquio Bersamin and the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco).
While Gov. Bersamin has been pressing the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to take over (Abreco) citing alleged “incompetence by its officers prompting frequent blackouts,” these blackouts the governor, who is oftentimes abroad, Abreco general manager Loreto Seares Jr. said, “is referring to occurred in December 10, 2012 for a couple of hours, and in January 24, 2013 for less than a day.”
Seares, in behalf of the cooperative’s offficials, is also taking exceptions from Gov. Bersamin’s ranting about the cooperative’s alleged “bankruptcy” and sets the record that Abreco never reneges on its power supply obligations. “Throughout (our) business negotiations with the Aboitiz Power Renewables, Inc. (APRI), there were some delays in the remittance of payment due to the difficulty of collecting electricity bills from several consumers, to include the provincial capitol officials who never miss an opportunity to portray an imagined picture of bankcruptcy.”
Last November, the electricity at the provincial capitol where Gov. Bersamin holds office, was cut off for at least a day because of unpaid bills.
Seares denounced wrong notions being peddled by what he called as “doomsayers” about the power market. The maintenance of Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc. (APRI) power generators is a market necessity, he explained. The Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) operates under government regulation. But it seemed that Gov. Bersamin “is cynical about the government action to address the energy situation of the country. Or, he is just woefully clueless about the mandate of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA),” the cooperative manager wonders.
Since 2012, Gov. Bersamin has been consistent in raising several doomsday scenarios for Abreco, Seares said. He “continually importunes DOE, CDA and NEA to find ways to oust the Abreco management and Board of Directors.” Calling his bluff, a top-level summit of DOE, NEA, CDA, PSALM, APRI, NGCP, and Abra local officials was held at F1 Hotel, Bonifacio Global City in February 2014. It was there and then that GM Seares said he made a commitment for the financial rehabilitation of the coop for at last six months. Hence, an undertaking was signed to the effect that the power supply of Abra would be maintained with no disconnection within the next three months of the financial rehabilitation period. “That has been successfully hurdled by the Abreco management.”
Instead of helping, Seares said, Gov. Bersamin “is hankering and invoking about a past deed, while trying to mislead government officials, religious leaders, and his followers, as much as he has misled himself into believing that Abreco is his, rightfully and destined so, for the taking.”
Setting the record straight, said Seares, the actual notice of disconnection started only after the billing period of October when APRI passed on to the coop the ‘force majeure’ bill of P7M as cost of repair and rehabilitation of the former’s typhoon-damaged generation facilities and demanded payment for just one billing, on top of the actual current power charges.
After the foiled black-out on December 15, Gov. Bersamin again called on DOE and NEA to help Abreco find a reliable power supplier that will guarantee sustainable power supply to the people of Abra and prevent outages during the Yuletide season.
But Seares laughed off the Governor’s “too-late-the-hero” concern. “We are in transition with the guidance of DOE and NEA. Under WESM, we are assiduously and painstakingly exploring ways to find a better power supply agreement, Seares said, adding that, “the old Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with APRI was regrettably tainted with political intervention and media over-hyping.”
Gov. Bersamin who has been strongly pressuring DOE and NEA to oust Abreco officials, Seares said, “is consistently troubling deaf heavens with his misguided campaign,” explaining that, the provincial governor seemed has “little regard for nor working knowledge about the operations of the RA 10531 (EPIRA). It seemed like, the Abreco manager said, “(the governor) would like the government agencies concerned to operate within his own myopic grasp of political issues and problems besetting his own province.” There are a lot of social and economic development woes and roadblocks confronting Abra, Seares said, further adding, “(Bersamin) has been instrumental in bringing those about upon the Abrenios since he took over the Capitol.” He is just wagging the dog’s tail to cover up his own failures and shortcomings in good governance, he added.***Artemio A. Dumlao***