MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc and workers at Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) have opposed a joint venture agreement (JVA) with a private power company, saying that Ceneco has been able to operate properly over the years.
In a briefing hosted by the Makabayan bloc on Tuesday, Leonard Guilaran of Responsible Supervisory and Confidential Union of Employees (RESCUE) — a labor union in Ceneco — said they could not accept moves to privatize the electric cooperative as the National Electrification Administration (NEA) itself said that Ceneco was not mismanaged.
Guilaran also claimed that Ceneco’s customers — who own the company since it was established in 1975 as a non-profit electric cooperative — were not consulted.
“Si Ceneco po […] ay binuo noong Feb. 25, 1975 to serve as a non-stock, non-profit electric cooperative na pangunahing mandato ay rural development po, bale hindi lang po siya electrification ng ating sitios within sa ating franchise area,” Guilaran said.
(Ceneco was built on Feb. 25, 1975 to serve as a non-stock, non-profit electric cooperative with rural development as its primary mandate, so it means it is not only involved in the electrification of the sitios within the franchise area.)
“Ngayon po ay may threat na hindi po ito magampanan ni Ceneco dahil sa mga kapitalistang gustong i-privatize si Ceneco …despite the lack of approval from our member-consumer owners, ang rightful na owners ng Ceneco as an electric cooperative. So for us, the employees po, ang JVA na ito ay walang basehan especially dahil ‘yong NEA admin po natin na si Neil Almeda ang mismong nag-declare na si Ceneco ay hindi ailing at mismanaged,” he added.
(Now there is a threat that this mandate may no longer be fulfilled because of the capitalists who want to privatize Ceneco …This is despite the lack of approval from our member-consumer owners, the rightful owners of Ceneco as an electric cooperative. So for us, the employees, this JVA is baseless especially since NEA administrator Neil Almeda, himself, declared Ceneco was neither ailing nor mismanaged.)
Guilaran further said that a possible transfer of management might also mean some workers would lose their jobs or be replaced by contractual employees.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said they were supporting Ceneco workers, echoing Guilaran’s sentiments that there was nothing wrong with the cooperative.
“Malinaw ‘yong pigura ‘no, ‘yong tinukoy ng ating mga workers na hindi inefficient ang Ceneco, masasabi natin sa record nila mula noong 1975 … mula no’ng 1970s ay naging maayos ‘yong kanilang pagbibigay ng serbisyong power utilities dito sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Negros,” Castro said.
(The figures are clear, showing our workers point that Ceneco is not inefficient, we can look at their record since 1975… since the 1970s it has been efficiently providing power supply and services.)
She also said Ceneco’s power rates were reasonable.
Based on the JVA, she said, there will likely be a mass retrenchment in the company as a new management comes in. Workers fear many will lose their jobs as the company may opt for contractualization and outsourcing, she added.
Earlier this year, Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said he would not oppose Ceneco’s JVA if power rates would go down.
Last June 5, Ceneco signed the JVA with Primeelectric Holdings Inc. The deal would, however, still need the member-consumers’ nod through a plebiscite that would be held on June 24 to 25, and July 1 to 2.
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