Armed conflict, poverty force power firm to incur huge debt

By Edwin O. Fernandez

COTABATO CITY, Feb 15 (PNA) — Armed conflict and other calamities were seen as the reason why the Maguindanao Electric Cooperative (Magelco) incurred close to P800 million debt with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) since 2005.

Edna Lidasan, general manager of Magelco, admitted to reporters that the armed hostilities in Maguindanao and extreme poverty forced power consumers to skip paying unpaid electric bills.

“Beside, many local government units have unpaid bills and the perennial problem of illegal connections that led to about 46 percent systems loss,” Lidasan said.

Because of limited supply from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Maguindanao has been experiencing longer brownouts, the latest lasted for about nine hours.

Lidasan said Magelco is now only getting almost megawatt power since January 30 from as high as 10 megawatt daily.

“It is the main reason why we always experience brown outs,” she said, adding that she only inherited the problem from previous administration.

Lidasan appealed to consumers to help bring the glory days of Magelco by promptly paying their electric bills and avoid illegal connections.

“This is your cooperative, you are part of it, please help,” Lidasan appealed to member consumers, adding that close to P10 million are still due for collection from Maguindanao LGUs.

While the province is experiencing power outages due to limited supply from NGCP, the Magelco main office and its compound is energized by the privately-owned Cotabato Light and Power Company.

Compounding the problem is the frequent attacks carried by lawless elements on transmission lines of NGCP in Maguindanao. (PNA)