MANILA – Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi discounted a dialogue with officials of rural electric cooperatives in Davao City on Mar. 19, 2019, which the group has called for.
“I don’t know the March 19. I have not received an official communication requesting for such,” he told journalists on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA) asked Cusi for an open dialogue, along with other stakeholders, at the Grand Regal Hotel, which it considers as “neutral ground.”
The group said it “believes that a sustainable development in the countryside cannot be achieved without a genuine rural electrification program.”
It said for almost 50 years “the electric cooperatives have always been – and will always be – a staunch partner of the government in the implementation of its electrification projects in rural areas.”
The dialogue is a response to the appeal of National Electrification Administration (NEA) administrator Edgardo Masongsong for the discussion between officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the rural cooperatives, it said.
“We fervently hope that all parties involved will take the moral high ground,” it added.
However, Cusi said any discussion between DOE and the stakeholders should be done at the DOE office.
“We are always open. We’re here, we’re government office. We’re government institution and this office is always open to all. So no need of dialogue schedule,” he said.
The Energy department conducted reviews of 17 cooperatives and it said only eight of these are “ailing” and have failed to provide efficient services to their consumers.
Cusi said they continue to review operations not just of electric cooperatives but also distribution utilities (DUs) and generation companies as well as oil, petroleum and liquefied natural gas (LNG) manufacturers.
He noted that even President Rodrigo R. Duterte has “expressed his exasperation in not just one, not just two” energy-related companies.
“We are serving the public. That’s public interest and we cannot leave the welfare of the public to the sweet time of whether it is the ECs or the DUs or whoever,” he said.
He said DOE officials cannot let inefficiencies be the norm, noting that they continue to check on the programs even of the past administration since some of these are yet to be implemented.
“I have no quarrel with ECs but this is what I can tell you - - l have to do my job and I will not be deterred by fear of what the affected party will do. If that would be my mindset then what happens to me, regulatory capture? That can’t be,” he said. (PNA)