P232M new burden

THE passing on to the consumers of P232 million that the Central Negros Electric Cooperative owed the power supplier is another proof that the faulty or even corrupt actuation of people placed in power to make decisions for their constituencies will eventually be a burden on the people who elected them. This is the irony of modern values – betrayal by people we trust.

I am using the term “election” merely as a generic because in reality there is no democratic voting system in this cooperative, now and ever since. Nobody can win the election in the cooperative without the consent or support of politicians, particularly of those in office. The electric cooperatives radically swerve from the oncology of their name.

Because the members of the board of Ceneco are either allies or subalterns of politicians we do not hear even a squeak from them to denounce clear abuses of discretion. After all people will pay, not them alone and their share of the burden will be equitably shared by a trisikad driver. The government will also share in the burden, but what the hell, it’s not their money!

The new financial burden to the people of Bacolod, Silay, Bago, Murcia and Talisay will be spread over a period of 50 months, according to Ceneco general manager, Sulpicio Lagarde, Jr. as if the extended agony is a blessing. The increase will be from six to eight centavos per kilowatt hour. Looks small, pittance even to the rich who uses 1000kwh per month but considering that thousands of families cannot even meet their electric bills, the addition will mean denial of other needs since electricity has become a necessity for basic living.

There are accusations that the contract was the fruit of corruption, the over contracting. I have discussed this in greater detail in the past to show the origin of this financial burden. It is no longer necessary to be labor the ordure that accompanied this contract, but who cared?

The Bacolod Diocesan Social Action Center entered the fray with its opposition. This is not proper to its fundamental function but it raised its opposition because nobody of those who ought to fight to their constituencies chose to remain silent. The proper institution to oppose is the local government.

Initially the Sanggunian of Bacolod filed an intervention and two councilors took to the field of battle. But when the fighting began, they somehow lost their courage and fell silent. What happened? I was given information of what happened, but the allegations are mere suspicions and extremely difficult to prove considering the large amounts of money involved.

The SAC persisted but it does not have the luxury of funding to fight a legal battle; it can only speak from a high moral ground. But then when large sums of money are involved, many people prefer the lower grounds.

The proper institutions to fight this battle, to repeat, are the local governments. Lagarde reportedly suggested the only way is to go to the Court of Appeals. To go to that court involves huge sums of money that private citizens or the SAC does not have.

On the other hand, local governments have the personality and the legal and financial resources to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. But why don’t they?

A quick answer is that Ceneco officials are their allies so they could not care less although the passing on of the P323 million means large amount of money from their coffers. Surely, that is not their money and paying for it will not adversely affect them.

At this stage the least strenuous posture is to pay and leave the rest to Divine Justice, if one believes in God. Indeed, do we have a choice except to cut off connections?

On a larger scale, who’s to blame but members who accept whatever Ceneco imposes? Certainly there are voices of protest, but they are best for corporate publicity and Ceneco knows that. Soon the war drums would fall silent, the favored contractor gets its money, Ceneco officials who approved the over contracted power that we never used or benefited from, live happily ever after until the time of reckoning.

So carry the burden, pay the cost of silence and acquiescence and allow one’s self to be browbeaten. Let the corrupt and vultures enjoy the moment.

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