By NITZ ARANCON
ORGANIZED power consumers yesterday filed a petition before the Supreme Court that seeks to void the contracts of 16 Mindanao-based electric cooperatives with FDC Misamis Power Corp..
The group, called Murang Kuryente, alleged that the cooperatives contracted FDC to boost their power supplies without public biddings.
The “negotiated contracts,” according to the group’s lawyer Bernard Gregorio, were a violation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) because of the absence of public biddings.
The 33-page petition was submitted to the SC via “electronic filing.” The group filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a preliminary prohibitory injunction, and/or a temporary restraining order.
The respondents are the Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, FDC, Bukidnon II Electric Cooperative Inc., Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc.;
Camiguin Electric Cooperative, Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc., Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative Inc., First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative Inc., Misamis Occidental II Electric Cooperative Inc.,
Misamis Oriental 1 Rural Electric Service Cooperative Inc., Misamis Oriental II Rural Electric Service Cooperative, South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative, South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Surigao Del Norte Electric Cooperative, Surigao del sur II Electric Cooperative Inc., and the Philippine Competition Commission.
Among the petitioners are Gerard Arances and members of the Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers (MCPC): David Tauli, Maria Teresa Reyes Rami, Leslie Escrupulo, Evely Marata, Joerick Centina, Bernadita Cartel and Angie Castillon.
Murang Kuryente’s Gerard Arances said the negotiated contracts of the electric cooperatives and FDC factored in the increasing power rates in Mindanao.
Arances questioned the government for allowing coal-fired power plant to mushroom in Mindanao.
“Daghan man unta kaayo ang atong resources alang sa renewable energy, apan ngano nga coal plant man gayud nga mahal man ang presyo sa kuryente niini nga klasi sa planta,” Arances told a news conference.
Incidentally, Murang Kuryente is a party-list group and Arances is one of its nominees.
Engr. Tauli, MCPC president and one of the petitioners, blamed the increase in power rates in the country’s second largest island on coal-fired power plants like the one owned and operated by FDC in Misamis Oriental.
Tauli, who used to be with the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco), said Mindanao’s power rates increased by as much as P14 per kilowatthour because of the coal-fired power plants.
He said the power rates would have been significantly reduced if only Mindanao became more dependent on renewable energy sources rather than coal-fired power plants.