Let Us Exercise Our Right to Organize as Consumers - CT

As expected, the emergency meeting of the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council on the power situation had so much finger-pointing that it ended with no solutions in sight for the pestering brownouts.

Ficelco Catanduanes. For one, FICELCO OIC Rodolfo Mendoza and NPC Plant Superintendent Edwin Tatel came as a pair an hour late. Apparently the dynamic duo had to make sure one of the NPC’s Marinawa plant went on line so that there would be no brownouts during the meeting. And indeed, no blinking lights. But barely had the council members went out of the venue when the brownout recurred.

There are some who say that the power situation is out of the consumers’ control and that all we have do for now is to suffer the inconvenience for about four months more until the last quarter of this year when the Hitoma mini-hydro power plant of SUWECO begins delivering cheaper electricity to the FICELCO grid.

The problem is that work at the hydro sites at Hitoma, Caramoran and Solong, San Miguel is far from being reasonably completed. An engineer who saw both sites say storm "Dante" dumped so much rain that numerous landslides blocked access roads to the dam sites and even buried bunkhouses and the unfinished Solong power plant, the "geographical problem" cited by SUWECO for the delay in the plant’s operation.

The 30,000 member-consumers of the cooperative remain ignorant about what is the status of these plants being built to sell reliable power to their residences and business, because even FICELCO, NPC or the local government have not even bothered to check their progress.

It is this same hesitance to share information that resulted in the public’s being kept in the dark as to the reason behind the Christmas light power service in the last three weeks. Under the Magna Carta for Electricity Consumers, we are supposed to have the right to information about the service being delivered to our homes. Apparently, this is being violated countless of times.

As UKAG has charged, both FICELCO and NPC are taking consumers for fools, on account of their refusal to explain what is the problem and their negligence or incompetence to anticipate problems in the grid. This has gone on long enough. It is time the Ficelco members exercise their right to organize as a consumer organization and take a long hard look at why the co-op continues to be run like a fiefdom by a board that has the OIC by the neck. Perhaps, MalacaƱang and the National Electrification Administration would hear our shouts for change in FICELCO management.

source: Editorial, Catanduanes Tribune - 20 May 2009