House Deputy Minority Leader Mujiv Hataman of Basilan has sought a congressional probe on frequent and incessant power outages in the province, saying the power problem was causing economic losses to the locality.
Hataman made the call under his House Resolution 1157, saying that the Basilan Electric Cooperative (BASELCO) should be probed, given that BASELCO and state-run National Power Corporation (NPC) officials already told a stakeholder’s forum held in Isabela City Basilan in October 2022 of varying reasons for the power outages, such as:
- aging wires, posts, and connections, most of which are at least 46 years old;
- technical losses – reduced from a high of 36% to the current 20%;
- financing problems;
- vegetation control/right of way issues with landowners who refuse to allow BASELCO workers to undertake sustained line clearing operations in their private lands; and
- other concerns, such as the collection rates, pilferage rates, missionary electrification, reclosers, etc.
“A stable power supply is very important for a community to prosper. Kung palagi ang brownout at power outages, malaking hadlang ito sa pag-unlad at sa kabuhayan ng mga mamamayan,” Hataman said.
(If power outages are rampant, this will hamper the community’s progress.)
“It has really caused huge economic losses in our province. At ang masama pa dito, nadi-discourage ang mga investors na mamuhunan sa amin dahil sa ganitong sitwasyon,” the former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) noted.
(What is worse is such problems drive away potential investors in the province.)
While the government provides livelihood and infrastructure assistance to the province, Hataman said such help would be for naught if there was no power supply to begin with.
He added that the frequent power outages had affected the delivery of goods and services, including public services and government programs, to Basileños.
“Imagine the operations of hospitals, dialysis centers, birthing clinics and other health institutions in a situation where almost every two to three hours, there is a power failure. Isa lamang itong halimbawa ng malaking epekto ng power outages sa mamamayan,” Hataman pointed out.
“We would like to know more about how legislation can ease the woes of BASELCO and other similarly situated electric cooperatives. Karapatan ng mamamayan ang mabigyan ng sapat na supply ng kuryente,” Hataman added.
The representative also said in his resolution that there was a need for Congress to decide whether or not to renew BASELCO’s franchise for another 50 years or to look at other options, such as the creation of a separate electric cooperative for Isabela City or granting the franchise to a private distribution utility.
Furthermore, Hataman said that BASELCO was saddled with debts to the state-run Napocor, on top of lack of capacity to implement capital expenditures.
BASELCO, Hataman said, owes NPC at least P3.2 billion in loans, and is paying its debt to NPC at a ratio of 60% payment of interest and 40% payment of the principal amount.
“Capital expenditures have been minimal or non-existent for nearly 20 years due to high debt servicing rates and inadequate revenue earnings of BASELCO,” Hataman added.
BASELCO’s franchise expires in 2028.
GMA News Online has sought comment from BASELCO on the House resolution, but the cooperative had yet to respond as of posting time. — DVM, GMA Integrated News